Govt would be illegitimate if Region 4 votes not verified – Assistant US Secretary of State

Govt would be illegitimate if Region 4 votes not verified – Assistant US Secretary of State

International pressure continues to mount on Guyana over its controversial electoral process as more bilateral countries join calls for a halt of the swearing-in of a President and to resume the verification process of the Statements of Poll (SOP), which was abandoned by the Returning Officer who went ahead and declared the unverified results for Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – a move that has received widespread local and international condemnation.

Calls continue to emanate from the United States (US) for Guyana to verify the Region Four results before a final declaration is made.

The latest to join these calls is the United States Department of State acting Assistant Secretary for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael Kozak, who also condemned the act, iterating on Saturday that Guyanese deserve a “credible election” and transfer of power that reflects their will.

“Vote tabulation irregularities marred #Guyana’s March 2 elections – our Ambassador [to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch] and many observers saw flawed vote tabulation. Irrespective of [Saturday’s] legal proceedings, any Government sworn in on the basis of that results would not be legitimate,” the State Department official cautioned.

Another US official, Tom Suozzi, who is a representative of New York’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Queens – where a large number of Guyanese are – also condemned the action by GECOM.
Suozzi tweeted on Saturday that he is deeply concerned about electoral fraud in the recent elections in Guyana.

US representative Tom Suozzi
US representative Tom Suozzi

“GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) must count every certified poll statement (“SOP”) and certify the votes cast and already counted on Monday. The attempt to not count the certified votes would be a fraud… I stand with the Guyanese people’s right to determine their leaders in a way that is consistent with democratic norms,” he posted on his social media handle.

Only Friday several US Congress Representatives had resounded similar calls.
Also on Saturday, French Ambassador to Guyana, Antoine Joly in a statement expressed his country’s deep concern at the situation in Guyana following the elections, which he said had taken place in good conditions until the results of Region Four were announced without completing the tabulation.

Citing “excellent bilateral relations”, the European nation called for a spirit of conciliation and a sense of general interest in favour of all Guyanese. Ambassador Joly added that his country supports the unanimous request of the electoral observation missions, including the European Union (EU), which requested a resumption of the counting process that is verified from the Statements of Poll.

“France warns against any hasty initiative aiming for the President to be sworn in until this verified count has been completed. Only this procedure will ensure a legitimate, democratically acceptable process and avoid the clashes which unfortunately have already started in different places in Guyana,” the French Ambassador stated.
On the other hand, another of Guyana’s largest bilateral funder, Norway, has also joined in on the international community’s stance on the electoral controversy here.

French Ambassador Antoine Joly
French Ambassador Antoine Joly

Norway’s Ambassador to Guyana, Nils Martin Gunneng, said “Norway shares concerns expressed regarding recent electoral developments in Guyana. The final election results need to be credible and transparent.”
The US$250 million bilateral agreement between Guyana and Norway contains provisions to seek the return of this money from Guyana if its Government becomes illegitimate.

Norwegian Ambassador Nils Martin Gunneng

Moreover, The Elders – a group established by Nelson Mandela to work for peace and human rights – joined fast-growing calls for GECOM to return to following Guyana’s laws in counting the votes from Monday’s election.
Also, in a twitter post on Friday, the organisation said “The Elders joins the [international] community in calling on all sides in the #Guyana Election to respect the rule of law and allow the electoral process to be completed without interference. Nothing but the will of Guyana’s voters should determine the country’s future.”
The Elders was founded by Nelson Mandela in 2007 and consists of independent global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights.

Friday’s statement on Guyana’s elections was issued on behalf of Mandela’s widow, Graca Machel; Nobel Peace Prize Winners Desmond Tutu, Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson, Juan Manuel Santos; the former President of Ireland and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson; former Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban ki-Moon and other global leaders.

Already, several international organisations which had observer missions here monitoring Guyana’s elections cited the lack of transparency in Thursday’s declaration of Region Four’s elections results and called for the verification process to be completed to give credibility to the full electoral process. These include the Organisation of American States (OAS), The Commonwealth, EU, Caribbean Community (Caricom) and the US-based Carter Center.

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