Guyana Govt denies US Embassy’s request for 7th relief flight
Although the caretaker APNU/AFC coalition Government had approved the request for six previous relief flight out of Guyana, the regime has now denied a 7th request by the United States Embassy in Georgetown to repatriate its citizens, who are stranded here amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
The National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) last month extended the closure of the country’s international airports for the second time – until June 3, when the nationwide curfew will be up for review and will either be further extended or lifted.
Since the closure of Guyana’s borders including its airspace to incoming commercial
flights on March 18, the US Embassy has been successful in seeking special permission from the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) to have six relief flights to date to take home its citizens and their families.
In fact, the mission has assisted over 1000 US citizens as well as others, including Canadians and British citizens, to fly to the US.
However, a recent
request for another commercial relief flight scheduled for Friday, March 22, 2020, from Georgetown to Miami was rejected.
This was indicated to US citizens, who are stranded in Guyana and were on a waiting list for the next flight.
The correspondence, seen by Guyana Times, states “…we regret to inform you that [the relief flight] was not approved. US citizens and LPR’s will need to continue to shelter in place until June 3rd when Guyana’s airspace is expected to re-open to international air traffic.”
The last relief flight to the US was on May 4, when it was anticipated that representatives from The Carter Center and the International Republican Institute (IRI) would be allowed to return to Guyana to observe the ongoing National Recount.
However, that permission was denied and the flight came to Guyana empty.
Last week, it was revealed by US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, that her office, as well as The Carter Center from the US, have made a second request to the Guyana Government for the organisation’s Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) as well as IRI advisors to return to Georgetown to monitor the ongoing recount exercise of the ballots cast at the March 2 elections.
But despite the observers committing to the necessary COVID-19 protocols in place, caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr Karen Cummings in a letter dated Friday, May 15, 2020, informed the US Ambassador that “…it may not be possible for The Carter Center and the IRI advisor to participate in the overseeing of the recount of the votes cast on 2nd March 2020 General and Regional Elections which as you are aware has already commenced.”
Cummings cited the series of emergency measures including the imposition of a curfew and the closure of Guyana’s international airports for the denial of the request.
“The Government of Guyana requests that the legitimate decisions it has taken with respect to the role of the Caribbean Community in the recount of the ballots cast in the General and Regional Elections and the Emergency Measures it has implemented to protect its citizens from the COVID-19 pandemic be respected,” Dr Cummings said to the US diplomat in the correspondence on Friday.