Democracy has been put to the test

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WASHINGTON, DC, United States (CMC) — Secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro has congratulated Guyana’s new president, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who was sworn into office on Sunday, ending months of legal and political controversy surrounding the disputed March 2 regional and general election.

“The OAS has closely monitored the situation in Guyana since the polls closed on the night of March 2, 2020. We are happy that the multiple calls by the general secretariat, national stakeholders and bilateral and multilateral partners for the genuine results of the elections to be respected were heard by GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission).

“The OAS congratulates the people of Guyana for their patience. We also congratulate the GECOM chair, retired justice Claudette Singh, for remaining true to her convictions and standing firm against the many efforts to undermine the will of the people,” Almargo said.

He said that democracy in Guyana had been put to the test in the process, adding “although it ultimately prevailed, it is clear there are weaknesses in Guyana’s electoral system that must be addressed.”

Almagro said that in the coming months, the Washington-based hemispheric body will issue its final report on the 2020 Guyana electoral process, “with recommendations that can assist in addressing these weaknesses and avoiding a similar situation in the future”.

Last month the OAS said that respect for the results of the national recount is Guyana was the “only democratic solution”.

Additionally, the OAS stated that “the chief elections officer of Guyana, in direct opposition to the instructions of the chair of the Guyana Elections Commission”, had submitted a final report, which included data compiled prior to the national recount; “data which had already been deemed to be questionable.

“There can be no justification for this action. As intimated in our statement of July 10, this confirms that the chief elections officer is acting in bad faith and contrary to the interest of democracy in Guyana.

“Let us be very clear: the only democratic solution for Guyana at this time is respect for the results of the national recount. No other figures — neither those prepared prior to the recount, nor those recently invalidated by the Caribbean Court of Justice, nor any others that may be unilaterally devised by the chief elections officer – can have any place in the final determination of results”.

It said that a new electoral process is also an “unacceptable solution”, noting that Article 1 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter states that “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”

On Sunday, Ali was sworn in as the ninth president of Guyana, promising a Government that is accessible and transparent, and urging Guyanese to put aside their differences for the betterment of the country.

Ali, 40, took the oath of office at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre before acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings Edwards, less than three hours after GECOM declared him the winner of the disputed March 2 regional and general elections.

GECOM also declared that the main Opposition People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) had won the most seats — 32 in the 65-member Parliament, with the outgoing coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) receiving 31 seats and the other political parties, one seat, under Guyana’s proportional representation electoral system.

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