U.S. expresses concern about misapplication of Guyanese constitution, court rulings


The United States Government on Wednesday said it was concerned about the way Guyana has applied the constitution and court rulings on the holding of elections.

“The United States is concerned about recent actions by Guyana that may undermine democratic principles, including apparent misapplication of the Guyanese constitution and certain court rulings,” the U.S. government’s representative said at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

The UPR involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States; Guyana was up for consideration on Wednesday.

On December 21, 2018, the National Assembly passed a No-Confidence motion against the Coalition Government, with 33 members voting for the motion in the 65-seat legislature.

The passage of the motion should have seen elections in three months, but the Government participated in legal challenges to the motion, including denying that 33 seats constituted the needed majority.

Guyana’s final court – the Caribbean Court of Justice – threw out that argument on June 18, and in a subsequent consequential order urged political actors to abide by the Constitutional requirement for elections.

When the three-month deadline lapsed on September 18, the United States Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch joined with the United Kingdom and the European Union in saying that by surpassing September 18 without an election the Government was in breach of the constitution and that this “hinders” their ability to support Guyana’s development needs.

President David Granger eventually called elections for March 02, 2020, thereby delaying elections by a year from when it was constitutionally due.

Meanwhile, the United States representative at the UPR process in Geneva said the U.S. Government recommends that Guyana immediately implements reforms to strengthen electoral procedures and enhance the independence of electoral authorities in order to ensure March 2020, elections are free, fair, transparent and credible.

Guyana’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, John Deep Ford, in responding stated that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is a constitutional body and is independent from the state, and committed to delivering, “free, fair, transparent and credible elections on March 02.”

Guyana’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, John Deep Ford (center)

GECOM is made up of three commissioners nominated by the Government and three from the opposition. The chairperson is appointed by the President after consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

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