“Order of Democracy” for 2020, future patriots – President Ali
…says will always honour courageous defenders of democracy
On the one-year anniversary since Guyanese went to the polls and voted out the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC), igniting a fight for democracy, President Dr Irfaan Ali has made it clear that both current and future defenders of democracy will be recipients of the “Order of Democracy”.
In a statement on Tuesday, President Ali noted the importance of honouring, now and for all time, those courageous people who defend democracy in Guyana. He noted that without democracy, there would be nothing but dictatorship and the abuse of power.
“Democracy is vital for the freedom of people; for human rights, including freedom of the media and freedom of expression. Democracy is crucial for businesses to thrive, for the attraction of investment, and for the social progress and economic prosperity of the nation,” the Head of State said on Tuesday.
Democracy, he stated, “is the basis for upholding the rule of law; separating the powers of the Government, the legislature, and the Judiciary; for ensuring the expression of the will of the people through free and fair elections; and for an electoral process uncontaminated by corruption.”
He quoted the late former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, who had warned the world that one of the greatest threats to democracy is elections without integrity. Moreover, President Ali noted that Annan had urged the world to cherish reform and defend democracy, lest it be lost for future generations.
“Fellow citizens, I want to ensure that we, as One People, One Nation in our One Guyana, cherish and defend democracy in the interest of all our people. I want this generation to ensure that democracy is preserved for us and that it is never lost for future generations,” Ali said in his statement.
“All of that was at stake last year. We experienced a dark time when we were made to walk through a deep valley in which the shadow of autocracy at home and ostracism from abroad hung over us. We escaped that awful fate because brave men and women, of all races, ages, and political persuasion, stood up to defend democracy and to resist stolen elections and autocratic and illegitimate Government.”
According to him, these brave defenders of democracy were able to set aside political differences and eschew racial bigotry in the interest of national cohesion. It is to them that the Order of Democracy will go.
“In saving the international standing of our country while preserving our rights and self-respect at home, they showed loyalty to One Guyana, One People, One Nation – a principle to which I, as President, am firmly committed and which I want to recognise and honour on behalf of a grateful nation.”
The Order will not only honour the patriots of 2020, Dr Ali said, it will honour all in the future who put first our nation’s democracy, “our people’s freedom, and our right to have respected the national will expressed at free and fair elections justly conducted and uncontaminated by corruption.”
Ali cited various legends and champions of human rights, including Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, to express his belief in equality and justice, freedom and multiracial democracy.
Moreover, he noted that he is guided by the words of Mandela, spoken in 1964 as he was being jailed in South Africa for his beliefs in equality and human rights. Mandela had said that “political division based on colour is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another.”
“That is why I have resolved that we live in One Guyana, as One People with no group more entitled than another, and no individual more deserving than any other except by virtue of diligence, manifest talent, and commitment to the national good. That is the Guyana we must uphold and sustain. If we are to ensure that political, civil, and human rights are protected, if our one Guyana is to prosper, then we must preserve and strengthen our democracy.”
According to the President, honouring those who embody these qualities is, therefore, integral to the process.
“We must hold up high our heroes of democracy so that its flame never flickers or fades in the hearts and minds of our people. This is why today I propose the establishment of the category of the Order of Democracy,” the President said.
Beginning of battle
The battle for democracy began in December 2018, when the David Granger-led APNU/AFC coalition Administration fell to a No-Confidence Motion brought by the then Opposition PPP/C.
The Granger Administration violated the Guyana Constitution by refusing to concede defeat and call elections within three months as constitutionally stipulated.
Instead, it mounted a legal challenge that reached all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which upheld the validity of the motion of no-confidence and ruled that elections in Guyana ought to have been held since March 2019.
Fast-forward to the March 2, 2020 elections, and what was already deemed a free, fair, credible and transparent electoral process by all international and domestic observers and the diplomatic corps, descended into chaos in light of a number of events which eventually led to Returning Officer for Region Four Clairmont Mingo blatantly attempting to alter the results of the elections – much to the objection of every stakeholder except the APNU/AFC coalition. In fact, in his alterations, Mingo added more votes to the APNU/AFC and subtracted votes from the PPP/C, in a bid to give the then incumbent a false victory.
A recount exercise was eventually embarked upon, and despite attempts by political operatives and compromised electoral officials to frustrate the process, the activity confirmed that the PPP/C had won the elections with a commanding 233,336 votes, a remarkable lead of 15,416 over its nearest political rival, the APNU/AFC.
But despite the announcement of these certified results, Harmon’s coalition party refused to concede defeat and mounted more challenges in a bid to further deny the will of the people.
Following the imposition of sanctions by the US Government against several top officials who were attempting to undermine democracy, the David Granger regime eventually conceded defeat, paving the way for Ali to be sworn in.
Notwithstanding, the coalition continued to peddle the inaccurate narrative that the APNU/AFC coalition had won the elections. They currently have an election petition before the court, with another one having been dismissed due to late service.