– Guyana may face similar resolution as Venezuela on government legitimacy
The Secretary General of the Organisation of American States, Luis Almagro has requested the Chair of the Permanent Council Luis Fernando Cordero Montoya, to convene a meeting with the aim of addressing the electoral situation in Guyana. This is in line with a previous statement from the OAS, which warned that the Secretariat would write to the Council on the Guyana situation
Almagro published notice of his request on Twitter, with a copy of the letter attached. Addressing the Chair, Almagro stated, “I have the honour of addressing Your Excellency to request your support in calling a meeting of the Permanent Council to deal with the situation of the electoral process in Guyana.”
The Permanent Council is one of the two main political bodies of the OAS, alongside the General Assembly, responsible for watching vigilantly over the maintenance of friendly relations among the member states, and assists them in the peaceful settlement of their disputes. As it relates to the Guyana situation, the member states had signed on to the Inter American Democratic Charter in 2001, which states that, “The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.”
Referring to this verse of the Charter in a recent statement, the OAS underscored the responsibility of Governments in this hemisphere to seek after good democracy with its member states, and stated, “It is past time that the current leaders of Guyana comply with their democratic responsibilities and allow the newly elected government to take its place.”
Guyana’s electoral process has dragged on for four months, with officials at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) continuing to rack up attempts to alter the correct results so that it gives the APNU+AFC coalition a false victory.
The Chief Elections Officer has been given his fourth chance by Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh to submit a report based on the recount results, which shows the PPP/C to have a 15,416-vote lead over APNU+AFC.
In a statement last Friday, the OAS had condemned 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 this regard, it called for those persons to be excluded from the electoral process. In the following statement released the next day, it became apparent that the OAS was referring principally to the Chief Elections Officer, who it said is acting in bad faith and contrary to the interest of democracy in Guyana.
Despite its urgency, the Chair refused to dismiss Lowenfield amidst mounting calls, and has given him yet another chance to submit a report on the correct results of the elections.
Meanwhile, the meeting of the OAS Permanent Council which has been requested by Almagro, is set to elevate the protraction and hijacking of Guyana’s democracy to an international stage for consideration by the organisation’s 35 member states. This Council has the power to pass resolutions condemning illegitimate governments and refusing to recognise them. One example is its decision not to recognise the legitimacy of the Maduro Government in 2019, following a non-credible election in 2018.
Though APNU+AFC officials condemn foreign governments and multilateral organisations now for speaking on the Guyana situation, Guyana joined 18 other nations in the hemisphere on the successful resolution at the OAS, condemning the illegitimate Maduro Government.
Back in April, US Ambassador Sarah Lynch had responded to criticisms of US policy on the Guyana situation, reminding that in January 2019, Guyana displayed its leadership in defence of representative government recently by joining other Lima Group members from the Americas to strive for a democratic resolution to the crisis in Venezuela.
She had stated “Along with 12 other countries, Guyana proclaimed in January 2019, ‘We reiterate that the electoral process that took place in Venezuela on May 20, 2018, lacked legitimacy as it neither included the participation of all political actors in Venezuela, nor did it have the presence of independent international observers, nor did it comply with the necessary guarantees or international standards for a free, fair and transparent election. Accordingly, we do not recognize the legitimacy of the new presidential term of Nicolás Maduro, or his regime, which commences on January 10, 2019.”
Guyana has made good on its commitment to respect the Charter in other cases as well.
Internationally-respected Caribbean academic and diplomat, Sir Ronald Sanders had told Kaieteur Radio in June that Guyana’s undermined democratic electoral process could get it thrown out of the OAS if a government is sworn in on the basis of false results. Such an attempt has been made five times during this election season.
Following resolutions by organisations like the OAS, it is not uncommon for consequences to follow. Venezuela is a striking example of the effectiveness of sanctions against undemocratic governments. Countries in the hemisphere have executed a range of sanctions against the government and against offending officials for years.
Venezuelan officials have faced sanctions from the US such as frozen assets, cancelled visas and bans on business with American companies. The country also faces more serious, sectoral sanctions. The US has provided a page cataloguing Venezuela-related sanctions – https://www.state.gov/venezuela-related-sanctions/
Similar sanctions have been replicated against the Bolivarian Republic by other countries in the hemisphere. The result is a Venezuelan economy that suffers, while countries refuse to conduct business with Venezuela, and millions of its citizens run to neighbouring countries for food.
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