Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


July 21, 2020 - Washington, DC

More than four months have passed since March 2, the day of the election in Guyana—141 days, to be exact—and the process has not yet concluded. By any standard, that is an unacceptable length of time. This unprecedented delay is the result of actions intended to block the will of the majority as expressed at the ballot box.

After an election that, as former Prime Minister Golding has just pointed out, was properly conducted, peaceful, and demonstrated Guyana’s civic spirit, attempts to hamper the processing of the results began.

The interruption of the count in the fourth region, before all the Statements of Poll were fully processed, marked the start of a chain of events taken to delay and conceal the results and to sow confusion among the citizenry.

On March 13, the Mission announced it was withdrawing from the country on account of the repeated trickery preventing the transparent verification of the Statements of Poll. To put that measure into perspective, such a situation has arisen on only a minimal number of occasions during the 270 missions carried out over more than 58 years by the OAS electoral observation program.

After the electoral authority announced that a national recount would be performed, we witnessed a number of attempts to legally block that process. After those attempts failed to prosper, efforts were made to undermine the credibility of the recount, involving—as the Chief of Mission has explained—groundless accusations of all kinds.

The recount finally went ahead, under the supervision of the party representatives and the international observers, and we now know the result of the March 2 vote.

However, Guyana’s democracy remains a hostage of one official, the Chief Elections Officer, who insists on presenting alternative data, despite the Caribbean Court of Justice, the court of final appeal in the Guyanese judicial system, and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) ordering him to prepare and present his report using the results from the national recount.

Given this grave situation, the General Secretariat reiterates the position expressed in the press release of April 15 regarding the need for GECOM to exclude, from the current electoral process and all future elections, those individuals who have acted with bias, out of either personal or party interests, or who have hampered the conclusion of the electoral process.

Guyana is in the midst of a political crisis and a crisis of confidence in its institutions, which could harm the health of its democratic system, and that is absolutely unnecessary. In accordance with the powers invested in me by the Inter-American Democratic Charter, I have decided to ask the Chair of the Permanent Council to include, on the Council’s agenda, an opportunity to discuss ongoing events in Guyana.

A solution exists, and it involves respecting the results of the national recount, as was agreed on by the parties when it was decided to begin that process.

Above and beyond certain organizational shortcomings, the recount was carried out transparently, as the OAS and CARICOM observers have noted. Those in Guyana who are truly committed to democracy, regardless of their party preferences, must respect the results.

No other alternative is admissible. The only solution is to respect what was agreed, to accept the results of the recount, and to allow the formation of a government as chosen by the electorate in the free exercise of their rights.

The transition must be peaceful, orderly, and prompt. That is essential, particularly in light of the global health crisis, which requires decisive actions by governments to guide and protect the population in the context of the pandemic. The political impasse the country is currently facing does not help the management of the crisis.

The incoming government, in addition to handling the pandemic, will face another important challenge: working to reduce the growing political tension in the country. As was noted by the Electoral Observation Mission in its preliminary report, there are major ethnic divisions within Guyana’s social and political spheres, which have been amplified by the recent electoral campaign.

Now is the time for the government and all political stakeholders to work together to strengthen the unity of the country: that is a moral imperative, that is an undeniable political imperative.

This is an historical moment for Guyana, one that will doubtless define its future. The authorities must today choose between two paths: one leading to the strengthening of democracy, or one that leads into a difficult abyss.

It is a time for the emergence of great leaders, those who can place their individual interests and party disputes to one side in order to preserve the system as a whole.

This has to stop. It has to come to an end. It is not serving Guyana, it is not serving the institutions, it is not serving democracy. It is not serving President Granger.

We respectfully request that no further use is made of the judiciary to delay a solution; the use of judicial remedies in this context, in that way, is not consistent with the good use of institutions and legal instruments.

At the same time, the judicial authorities must adopt, once and for all, a ruling that is consistent with the recount that was observed by the international community and as was agreed on by the parties.

It is time to decide to uphold democracy.

Thank you very much.