Fight to ensure credible elections declaration was not an easy one – Sanders tells OAS

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Statement by Sir Ronald Sanders, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda At the Regular Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on Friday, August 7th 2020 on the item “Results of the 2020 General and Regional Elections in Guyana”

Mr Chairman

The declaration of the results of the Guyana elections on August 2nd, five months after they were held, was, in the end, a triumph for democracy and the rule of law.
Despite the tension and uncertainty of the five months interregnum, a new government has been sworn-in and has assumed office peacefully.
But this victory for democracy was not simply won.
When this Council met on July 21st to consider the situation in Guyana, democracy was not assured.
For, there should be no mistake, there were those intent upon retaining power by every artifice, including abuse of the court system, and by repeated attempts to manipulate the votes to suit their purpose.
Democracy was delivered because of the patient determination of the Guyanese people who looked to their neighbours in CARICOM and the wider international community for help.
Democracy was delivered because of the active participation of the institutions of CARICOM at several crucial junctures, including in a national recount of the votes and a judgment by the Caribbean Court of Justice.
CARICOM’s role was not one of intervention; it was in response to invitation.
The invitation was rightly offered and rightfully accepted.
For the countries of CARICOM are intertwined by shared institutions, common history and treasured values.
Democracy was also delivered because of the vigilance of the international community in unfalteringly accompanying the Guyanese people through the long and tense five months of their vigil.
Throughout this process, Mr Chairman, the Secretary-General of this Organization, Luis Almagro, and the general secretariat played a vital role.
The OAS stayed longer in Guyana than any other electoral observation mission; it maintained a presence for the full 33 days that it took for CARICOM to scrutinize the national recount of the votes; and declarations by the Secretary-General, strategically issued, warned the anti-democratic forces that this Organization was watching.
The statements made at the meeting of the Permanent Council on July 21st, including the comprehensive presentation by the Chief of Electoral Observer Mission, the Most Honourable, Bruce Golding, left no doubt that member states expected all parties in Guyana to uphold democracy and the rule of law.
In this regard, the OAS played a positive and crucial role in Guyana, not by interfering in its internal affairs but by fulfilling the Organization’s obligation to encourage and urge all parties in a member state to uphold commitment to the promotion and defence of democracy.
My delegation also acknowledges the constructive role played by the United States and Canada in supporting the efforts of CARICOM and the OAS.
The declaration of the legitimate will of the people as exercised at the March 2nd elections, was a triumph for democracy in Guyana, for the institutions of CARICOM and for the role of the OAS.
My delegation welcomes the peaceful transition to a new government in Guyana, reflecting the will of the electorate.
We take this opportunity to wish the new Government of President Irfaan Ali well.
And, we reaffirm our familial bonds to the people of Guyana in our Caribbean Community and in this Organization of American States.
Thank you.