By A. T. Freeman
The prolonged electoral stalemate in Guyana is acting as a magnet, attracting ever greater foreign interference in that country’s internal affairs. This has heightened following a judgment handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), on 8 July, which ruled the Guyana Court of Appeal decision that underpinned the Chief Election Officer’s (CEO) action of removing over 100,000 votes, was invalid and that, consequently, the Chief Election Officer’s report on the results of the 2 March election was also invalid.
Two days later, on 10 July, representatives of the USA, Britain, Canada and the EU, the so-called ABCEU countries, held a meeting with Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Brigadier Godfrey Bess. Representing the ABCEU countries were Ms. Sarah-Ann Lynch, United States Ambassador, Mr. Greg Quinn, British High Commissioner, Ms. Lilian Chattergee, Canadian High Commissioner and Mr. Fernando Ponz-Canto, European Ambassador.
The ABCEU delegation is reported to have called on the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) to act in a ‘politically unbiased’ manner in the current crisis, while pledging their ‘continued military support’ for this organisation. On the same day, Britain’s Minister for the Overseas Territories, Baroness Sugg, called on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to declare the results of the 2 March election on the basis of the results from the CARICOM scrutinised recount. Demonstrating the co-ordinated nature of the interference, the Organisation of American States (OAS) also issued a statement on the same day. In it, the OAS commended the chair of the Elections Commission for her instruction to the Chief Election Officer to submit the results of the March 2 election.
An OAS Colony?
Reflecting its view that Guyana is an OAS colony, the statement also called on the Elections Commission to “exclude from the current electoral process, and indeed from all future electoral processes, those persons whose actions display clear partisan bias, and who apply this bias unreservedly in hindering the natural unfolding of the democratic process in Guyana”. In other words, the OAS is calling for the dismissal of Guyana’ s Chief Election Officer and his permanent exclusion from playing any similar role in future Guyanese elections.
Following the Chief Election Officer’s refusal to comply with the instructions from the chair of the Elections Commission, the OAS issued an even more direct attack on him in its statement of 11 July. This declared: “The Organization of American States (OAS) notes that the Chief Elections Officer of Guyana, in direct opposition to the instructions of the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission, has submitted a final report which includes 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. A new electoral process is also an unacceptable solution”.
With this statement, filled with colonialist arrogance, the OAS declares to the people of Guyana that it and it alone will determine what a democratic solution to the current standoff in that country is and also what types of electoral processes are acceptable for the Guyanese people. This brazen interference in Guyana’s internal affairs is being carried out under the banner of ‘protecting democracy’ and ‘making sure every vote counts’. The reality, however, is the opposite.
Divide and Rule
The current electoral crisis in that country is, itself, the product of previous foreign interference, when in 1953, the British and Americans overthrew the first government elected on the basis of universal suffrage and the British army occupied the country. Using its well tested colonial policy of ‘divide and rule’ the British instigated splits in the anti-colonial movement and divided the people on the basis of whether they originated from Africa or India. This communal division and its attendant racism have become institutionalised in Guyana and are the source of the current election stalemate.
Further interference from those who are the cause of the problem will not lead to any solution and will only worsen the situation. The foreign interference in Guyana’s affairs must end and the people of that country must be allowed to resolve the situation in a way that suits their interests.
[Photo: Delegation from the ABCEU countries meet with the chief of the Guyana Defence Force; Photo credit: Kaieteur News]