May 14, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is calling for a suspension of the USAID funded International Republican Institute (IRI) led electoral reform project, recommending instead that CARICOM is more suitable for the job.
The IRI consultations towards electoral reform commenced earlier this month but has since faced criticism over its suitability and preparations.
Yesterday, the GHRA, in a scathing statement on the IRI project, noted that a number of essential factors were lacking in the preparatory process. According to the GHRA, electoral reform should only come after there is a compromise between the two political parties.
The GHRA noted too, that the fundamental challenge to electoral reform in Guyana is the vulnerability and ease of ethnic manipulation by political parties. It said that resolving this deep-seated issue cannot begin with elections and that, in political terms, the foundational work for electoral reform consists of building compromise across all sectors.
“This is the preparatory task which should begin immediately. Success requires each and every organisation in the country to make compromises, seize opportunities to cooperate with organisations of other ethnicities, ensure governing Boards are inclusive whether they are sports federations, religious associations, trade unions and business, cultural or philanthropic,” the Human Rights organisation stated.
The Association warned too, that if launched prematurely, the reform process will inevitably become embroiled in the endless bipartisan recrimination over the last elections rather than address the decades of structurally dysfunctional elections. To this end, the GHRA called the timing of the project wrong. Further, the body said that it does not believe the IRI is suitable for the task at hand.
Having been an advocate for electoral reform for decades, the GHRA says that it finds itself in the unusual position of opposing the reform process funded by USAID. The GHRA noted that the selection of the International Republican Institute (IRI) to lead the electoral reform project is a bizarre choice.
The Association said that in previous eras, the IRI, like its counter-part, the National Democratic Institute (NDI), offered useful services to promote democracy.
“Unfortunately…board members listed on the IRI web-site is a veritable who’s who of the Republican establishment, including party grandees such as Senators, Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and Dan Anderson. With the exception of Mitt Romney none of these IRI stalwarts have publicly distanced themselves from the Trump-led mayhem following the November US election results, nor from the persecution of Congresswoman Cheney for doing so, nor from the on-going Republican campaign to disenfranchise voters in traditionally democratic States.”
In addition to their domestic transgressions, the Human Rights Association noted that during the electoral crisis in Guyana, the Trump Government, in the person of then Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, exacted a high price from the current ruling party by enlisting Guyana among countries denouncing the Maduro government in Venezuela and thus destroying Guyana’s delicately crafted and decades-long posture of non-interference in internal affairs of Venezuela. As such, the GHRA stated that Guyanese have nothing to learn from an institution whose parent body is a leading influence in “global fascism.”
“How can such a party or its affiliated institutions lead a process where compromise is central to success? Which Guyanese civic organization is willing to risk its integrity by collaborating with an Agency representing such anti-democratic lawlessness?” the Association asked.
The GHRA suggested therefore that the continued association with Republican politics, even with ‘Republicanism-lite’ in the form of the IRI, is unacceptable. If external electoral assistance is needed in Guyana, CARICOM in general and Jamaica in particular, would be the place to start.
“If external electoral assistance is needed in Guyana, CARICOM in general and Jamaica in particular, would be the place to start. This IRI-led project should be suspended,” the group said.
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