Int’l Day of Democracy: Safeguarding democracy is a collective effort – President Ali
…pledges to strengthen pillars of Guyana’s democracy
Describing the safeguarding of democracy as a collective effort, President Dr Irfaan Ali has used the United Nations (UN) designated “International Day of Democracy” to pay homage to those who safeguarded Guyana’s.
In his message on the occasion, President Ali reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to stay on the democratic path while joining the international community in observing the day. The President noted that the UN had affirmed democracy as a universal value, based on the will of the people.
“We pledge on this International Day of Democracy 2021 to strengthen the ramparts which protect our fragile democracy: the rule of law, the independence of the Judiciary, freedom of expression and constitutional rule,” the President said.
Democracy, he added, is predicated on respect for freedom and human rights and respect for the will of the people through free and fair elections held at periodic intervals, adding that as the Caribbean Court of Justice has observed, “elections that are free, fair, transparent and accountable are the lifeblood of a true democracy.”
The President noted that Guyana was once the victim of rigged elections and authoritarian rule that included human rights abuse and the derailment of economic development. This is likely a reference to the Government of former President Forbes Burnham, who was in power for over 20 years.
According to the Head of State, “many were forced to scamper from our beloved motherland in order to escape persecution. A threat to free and fair elections represents an assault on democracy. Guyanese have a duty to zealously guard the country’s democracy.”
“For almost two and a half decades in the past, our people were deprived of the right to elect a Government of their choice, and one year ago, there was an attempt to subvert the will of the electorate. That plot was repelled because of the heroism of our people, who stood defiant against the plot to rig our elections. Democracy prevailed, and our nation was rescued from the tentacles of dictatorship.”
He therefore applauded those patriots, both at home and abroad, who stood for democracy in Guyana during those difficult days. According to the President, that experience served to strengthen the country’s resolve to ensure that democracy is never again put in jeopardy.
“Let us, therefore all commit, on this International Day of Democracy to ensure that the democratic will of our people is never again threatened. May we all lend our efforts towards fortifying our country’s democracy!”
“Democracy requires all to be involved; religious leaders, civil society and every citizen who value highly freedom and the ability to choose. All of us must ensure that democracy is safeguarded every day of our lives,” the President said.
President Ali’s affirmations come in the wake of one of Guyana’s most sordid experiences with electoral fraud, namely the attempts to alter the results of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
In the aftermath of the controversial five-month-long elections, a number of high-ranking Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials had been investigated by the Police and slapped with various charges for misconduct in public office and for forgery.
They included former Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, his former Deputy Roxanne Myers and former Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo. All have since been fired from GECOM.
Last month, the President had reaffirmed his Administration’s aim to establish a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) to examine the attempt to steal the 2020 General and Regional Elections. He had said that the process had commenced to engage various stakeholders in finding suitable names that can be part of the Commission. (G3)