US Congressional team meets with Opposition, Govt in Guyana
…discuss free and fair elections
A United States Congressional Delegation is in Guyana and has met with the main political parties as well as stakeholders to discuss matters pertaining to the upcoming March 2 General and Regional Elections in Guyana.
The Congressional Delegation comprised of Congressmen Albio Sires and Gregory Meeks, and Congresswoman Yvette Clarke. They were accompanied by US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch during the high-level meetings on Wednesday.
The Congressional Delegation first met with a team from the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) on Wednesday morning at the Office of the Opposition Leader on Church Street, Georgetown.
Following that meeting, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told sections of the media that he raised his party’s concerns with the US officials on some “new developments that could undermine the credibility of the elections if they’re not addressed immediately”.
Nevertheless, the Opposition Leader noted that the party is assured with the presence of the Congressional Delegation, who emphasised their country’s continued support for free and fair elections in Guyana.
“We took the opportunity to talk about democracy in Guyana and they reiterated the United States support for free, fair and credible elections, and peaceful elections. And that all the parties that are contesting the elections would accept the results peacefully and that is the key message that came from their side,” Jagdeo stated.
He added too that they discussed other issues relating to Guyana’s development.
During the high-level meeting, Jagdeo was accompanied by PPP/C Prime Ministerial Candidate, retired Brigadier Mark Phillips, former Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, and former Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Juan Edghill.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Delegation on Wednesday afternoon met with a Government team led by President David Granger and included Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Karen Cummings and Social Protection Minister Amna Ally.
According to the Head of State, the US officials were seeking assurances of credible elections.
“I was able to assure the US Congressional team that all the preparations which need to be made are being made by the Elections Commission in accordance with the law and that the Executive branch of the Government has been compliant with the Constitution. And that we’re working towards ensuring that the elections are indeed free and fair, and we will continue to cooperate with the Elections Commission to do so,” he posited following the meeting at the Ministry of the Presidency.
The President further noted that the Congressional team was also assured that there would be no disorder or lawlessness at the upcoming polls. He added that commitment was also made for Guyana to play a key role in the Western Hemisphere.
Additionally, the US Congress members also met with executives of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Guyana (AmCham Guyana) on Wednesday afternoon.
During the meeting, the private sector officials reinforced their commitment towards ensuring a free and fair election process.
“Representatives of the GCCI, AmCham Guyana and the PSC expressed their commitment towards encouraging an environment conducive to free, fair, inclusive and participatory elections on March 2, 2020.”
Among those at the meeting were President of AmCham Guyana, Zulfikar Ally; PSC Chairman Gerry Gouveia, and GCCI President Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer.
Congressman Meeks serves as the US Representative for New York’s 5th congressional district, which is home to a large population of the Guyanese Diaspora.
Up to press time, there were official statements from the US officials on the meetings they had throughout the day and the purpose behind their visit.
Ambassador Lynch briefly commented while leaving the Opposition Leader’s office on Wednesday morning that “we’re pleased to have the Congressional Delegation here”.
Furthermore, a statement on the US Embassy’s Facebook page on Wednesday evening outlines that the North American country has demonstrated its commitment to supporting free, fair and credible elections in Guyana by providing funding to partners that are assisting the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) with technical assistance, and to support Guyanese civil society organisations to conduct voter education and electoral observation.
“During Guyana’s election period, the United States will: fund independent experts to support to GECOM in ensuring a transparent electoral process; work with a broad group of local, civil society organisations to conduct voter education outreach, and work with the organisations to conduct election observation throughout Guyana and assessments which will be made public,” the US Mission noted.