May 04, 2020 News
– Despite Govt. disapproval US State Dept. and OAS want observers here
The US Embassy has said that the National COVID-19 Task Force, headed by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has refused approval for the Carter Center Observer Team to return for the recount of the March 2 ballots.
The decision comes even as the ABCE diplomats along with the Private Sector Commission (PSC) called for the team’s presence.
The Carter Center Observer Mission had tweeted that they have been trying to acquire a flight to observe the recount of the March 2 ballots but have not been granted permission by the incumbent Coalition.
In a statement yesterday, the US Embassy stated that they requested by diplomatic note, assistance in obtaining permission for flights on May 4, 2020 and May 30, 2020. The Embassy stated that it sent a copy of the diplomatic note to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, accompanied by a request to advance the issue to the COVID-19 Task Force.
“We received the usual professional courtesies from all parties, as is characteristic of Guyana’s diplomats and civil servants,” the release said. The Embassy noted that the diplomatic note referenced the observer’s intentions to comply with the COVID-19 testing and quarantine measures.
However, they were informed on Saturday that the flight for today (May 4) was approved for U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and those who wish to return to or transit to their homes, but not the observer team.
“The U.S. Embassy was informed on Saturday, May 2 that the incoming May 4 flight had been approved by the Task Force, but not the arrival of the observers,” the statement said.
The US Embassy indicated that they have sought reconsideration of this matter with President David Granger “in recognition that the observer missions illustrate the commitment of the incumbent and the international community to a free, fair and transparent recount process.”
GECOM Commissioners weigh in
Meanwhile, following the conclusion of a Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) meeting yesterday, Commissioners Vincent Alexander and Sase Gunraj gave their comments on the issue.
According to Opposition Commissioner, Sase Gunraj, “a delay in granting approval can sometimes be considered as a constructive refusal of permission to have the Carter Center and I believe, International Republican Institute (IRI), that wish to come.”
Commissioner Gunraj did point out that since the elections is not completed, the observers still possess their accreditation, which means there is no need to re-invite them.
He noted that the GECOM Chair will send a notice to the observers and the Task Force updating them on the recount process.
Government Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, however, stated that there are many sides of the story out in the public domain.
He said, “This accusation that they have not been granted permission is not a reflection of what has occurred because the source to which they must have applied for permission would not have been applied to.”
Calls for the Carter Center Observer Mission to return
Acting Assistant Secretary for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael Kozak, Organisation for American States (OAS) Secretary for Strengthening Democracy Francisco Guerrero along with United Nations Representative in Guyana, Mikkio Tanka, European Union Ambassador, Fernando Ponz Canto and Guyana’s Canadian High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee in separate tweets yesterday all issued calls on the incumbent to approve the flight for the Carter Center Observer Mission to return to Guyana.
In his tweet, Michael Kozak said “The United States calls on the Government of #Guyana to approve entry for @CarterCenter and @IRIGlobal in order to ensure a transparent electoral recount.”
According to him, “a credible recount requires robust international participation.”
In Francisco Guerrero’s tweet, he stressed that “All international organizations accredited to observe the elections in Guyana should be allowed to observe the recount.”
“A transparent conclusion to the election is fundamental to rebuild public trust,” he noted while stating that the OAS observer team will continue to observe on the ground.
UN representative Mikkio Tanka in her tweet said “The @UN hopes for the timely return of the Carter Center @CarterGuyanaEOM to #Guyana to fully participate in the observation of the national recount and to help bring speedy and credible closure to the 2 March #GuyanaElections,”
High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee’s tweet expressed similar sentiments.
“I hope Guyana will allow them to return to complete their task. @CarterCenter has earned the respect of Guyanese citizens & political parties for decades. @CarterGuyanaEOM”
The Private Sector Commission also issued a call for the Carter Center Observer Mission to be present. In a release, the PSC noted that they are aware of the valuable contribution of the Carter Center to democracy and free and fair elections in Guyana for more than 20 years.
“The Carter Center is an accredited observer to the March 2020 election which remains incomplete until the declaration of the results,” the PSC said.
Further, they pointed out that the foreign observers were invited by the President to participate in the 2020 elections “by virtue of Section 3. (1) of the Representation of the Peoples Act after consultation with the Chairman of the Elections Commission.
They stressed that, “it is now the duty of both the President and the Chairman to facilitate the early return of the foreign observers by issuing such instructions and directions as are necessary.”
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