BY: VISHNU BISRAM
Guyanese everywhere welcome the statement of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, imposing sanctions on electoral bandits. For the first time in Guyana’s history, the US Government (first for any foreign administration) has asked a Government of Guyana to step aside after an election. The Granger Administration has refused to accept an electoral verdict that every foreign observer mission, diplomat, and democratic institution in Guyana says the incumbent was defeated. Now sanctions have kicked in to coerce acceptance of the democratic outcome.
This was not dissimilar to 1992, when the US coerced the PNC regime to accept the outcome of a democratic election. People say the PNC does not have a history of willingly submitting to the will of the electorate, requiring intervention of the US as a guarantor of democracy in Guyana.
The Guyana regime needs to be reminded that US enduring security depends on respect for democracy in its backyard. The US can’t close its eyes to electoral fraud in this era. The US, like almost every democratic government around the globe, has called on the Government of Guyana to honour the result of the March 2 elections, as obtained in a recount of ballots that showed the regime lost to the PPP by 15,400 votes.
Those of us who studied comparative politics would know the ongoing mantra of US foreign policy on elections. The US is embracing democratic values and pushing back against authoritarian, undemocratic rulers. Towards this end, the US rejects electoral fraud unlike, say, during the period of the dictatorship, when the US was blind to fraud in order to keep out the communists who would have won democratic free and fair elections.
It was the strongest statement yet from the Secretary of State calling on Granger Administration (by name) to step aside. The regime is now targeted with a wide net for sanctions. Even lawyers who are prostituting themselves with frivolous cases before the court would face sanctions. The lawyers ought to know better, and stop fooling clients that they have a legal case when there is no hope. No judge would rule against the CCJ, the final arbiter of the law.
The US isn’t playing games any more on democratic behaviour. If a regime continues to be defiant and feels the US would leave Guyana alone, the treatment of Manuel Noriega of Panama serves as a reminder. He was picked up by US troops in an invasion and flown to US for a trial, where he was convicted and served over twenty years. Then he was sent to France for another trial and conviction and further imprisonment. When his term finished there, he was brought back to the US for another life term.
Such hospitality would be given to riggers, including Ministers, financiers, bureaucrats, and judges and their family members. Also, those who have their children studying in the US could see their visas cancelled and deported.
As Pompeo stated, the US is very concerned about maintenance of democratic values in Guyana and other countries, and has repeatedly threatened sanctions on those involved in electoral fraud. The US recognizes that democracy and pluralism are under assault in Guyana through attempts at rigging. Violation of basic rights are not permitted. Such violations can’t be tolerated by democratic and freedom loving countries. The riggers can’t be allowed to undermine democracy and the rule of law.
That is why Guyanese Americans have been calling on the US to impose sanctions. No one should be spared – including those living in America who are urging people to take to the streets and threatening violence against supporters of democracy.
The US also recognises that the behaviour of some members of the coalition is undermining US authority in the region. The US can’t allow the regime to defy it and get away without sanctions, thus the noose is tightening around the neck of the defiant regime and those involved in rigging.
Pompeo’s words are pointed. No court action can save the regime. No judge would risk another idiotic ruling like some earlier ones that would result in their fall in the dragnet of sanctions.
If the orders of members of the Elections Commission were not heeded: to prepare a report for declaration, more sanctions would be coming. Next time, it would be of a harder nature, such as seizure of assets, and would include more family members, not excluding those studying as foreign students in America.
The honourable thing for the coalition is to accept defeat, congratulate Dr Irfaan Ali, and try to build a credible opposition to win the next election.