Being part of the “democratic club” requires holding credible elections – US Ambassador

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FILE: US Ambassador Sarah Ann Lynch and other Western Diplomats walk out of the controversial election tabulation process for District Four (Don Singh Photo)

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, has said that countries who wished be part of the “democratic club” must first adhere to certain basic principles of democracy; which include holding elections that are considered free, fair and credible.

During an interview with Newsroom’s Neil Marks, on Thursday, in relation to issues surrounding Guyana’s present political situation, the Diplomat reiterated her earlier position about democracy being “a unique club”.

The US Ambassador was adamant that “if you want to be a member of that club, you have to adhere to those responsibilities; you have to adhere to democratic principles; you have to adhere to the bedrock of democracy, which is free, fair and credible elections and the rule of law.”

“You don’t just get to call yourself a democracy; you have certain responsibilities as a democracy,” she added.

The US diplomat observed that it is close to nine weeks after the March 2 polls “and we are getting to the point where it is a historic amount of time in an unresolved election in a democracy.”

The Ambassador said that the international community was anxious for a winner to be declared for the elections, given the hiatus that had obtained since the passage of the No Confidence Motion in December 2018.

When asked to pronounce on that country making good on its threats of sanctions if the current electoral impasse in Guyana is not resolved through a credible process, she said her country stands by its word when it comes to threats of sanctions against individuals here who benefit from electoral fraud.

Ambassador Lynch also used the occasion to caution, “When an unresolved election meets a global pandemic, this equals a problem set that not a lot of nations are dealing with; so Guyana has a lot of critical decisions to make here.”

Referring to the neighbouring migrant crisis in Venezuela, the US diplomat also noted the border controversy with Guyana, which is compounded by the fact that Guyana needs to begin addressing its economy. She said, “The answer to all of these things is leadership.”

FILE: Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo and Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield at Court

She again cautioned that the “US is certainly watching this unfold, and we are watching it carefully both here locally and back in Washington…the Secretary of State has said that there will be serious consequences if the rule of law is not adhered to.”

According to the ambassador, the specifics of the sanctions to be imposed, if any, would be dealt with back in Washington “at the highest levels of the State Department.”

Defending her recent public pronouncements on the Guyana situation, which were met with accusations of foreign interference, Ambassador Lynch said she was simply pointing out the difference between that and good diplomacy; and had she sat quietly, that could not be considered good diplomacy on her part.

Diplomats across the globe, according to Lynch, pronounce on issues wherever they are serving, and Guyana is no different in this regard.