If there is a breach of democracy, EU will have to impose sanctions – EU Ambassador
A small window of opportunity remains open for Guyana to resolve its 2020 electoral crises through a credible recount, but if democracy is derailed then the country could face crippling sanctions from the 27-member European Union (EU).
This was the assertion of EU Ambassador to Guyana Fernando Ponz-Cantó, who repeatedly noted on Monday that this is not the direction the EU hopes to go.
He was at the time speaking on ‘Election/COVID-19 Watch’ on Kaieteur Radio.
According to the Ambassador, who described the EU as a friend of Guyana, the window of opportunity for a credible and transparent end to the election process has not closed, since a recount of the March 2 votes is still being finalized after two controversial declarations last month.
“The window of opportunity has not closed. It is not the time yet to put forward that proposal [for sanctions] because the situation can still be remedied democratically.
“But, if situations like these are not remedied democratically, then the EU has the duty and the determination to act according to the principles we share,” Ambassador Ponz-Cantó stated.
Those principles he referred to are enshrined in the Cotonou Agreement which is the framework of cooperation under which the EU works with the 79 countries of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) group, which includes Guyana.
The Ambassador explained that the Agreement is based on shared fundamental principles, and if those principles are violated by a country, then a suspension provision would be activated.
“One of those principles, and perhaps the most important one, is democracy. If anybody does not recognize the democratic provisions, there will be a suspension of the cooperation,” he said, adding that several African countries and Haiti have been subjected to this before.
“We have done it, unfortunately, quite a few times in Africa – I was involved in several of those processes – we did it once in the Caribbean in Haiti several years ago, and if there is a breach of democracy, we will have to do it because we are bound by those provisions” the Ambassador warned.
He was keen to note too that the EU’s development cooperation with Guyana is massive, and he would, therefore “hate to see that interrupted”.
Not limited to a suspension of cooperation, Ambassador Ponz-Cantó revealed that the EU’s system of sanctions also includes assets freeze and visa suspension among other things.
“The suspension of cooperation is only one of the possibilities because we – like the U.S, Canada and Britain – have a system of sanctions which includes assets freeze, visa suspension, and all the typical tools. This is something we don’t like to use, I won’t like to use, and I hope we won’t have to use,” he said.
However, he added that if situations like these are not remedied democratically, then the EU has the duty and the determination to act according, and invoke the Agreement which outlines a course of action that includes sanctions.
The possibility of sanctions for Guyana surfaced last month following two controversial declarations of results in Region four – the country’s largest electoral district – which handed the APNU+AFC a victory.
However, all international observers and most local observers have described the declarations as having been made from results which were not transparently and credibly tabulated.
There have since been calls by supporters and members of the APNU+AFC for incumbent President David Granger, to be sworn in based on those declarations.
The U.S, through Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, was among the first to issue a stern warning that any government sworn in on results which are deemed fraudulent or not credible will face sanctions.
Other foreign powers have since issued similar warnings.