In democracies, leaders step aside when voted out of office – US rep tells OAS

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Bradley Freden

Bradley A. Freden, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States, addressed the Organisation of American States on Tuesday, contending that “there is no way to minimise how flagrant the actions of Guyana’s leaders have been.”

Freden said the US has witnessed over 18 months of chaos in Guyana, beginning in December 2018 with the passage of the No-Confidence Motion against the APNU/AFC Government.

“Throughout 2019 and into this year, we remained optimistic that Guyana would resolve its political stalemate promptly and democratically. But then came the country’s March 2 elections and their aftermath,” Freden said.

He explained that international observers noted flagrant tabulation irregularities, and unanimously agreed that there was no credible result. He further noted that the shared concern over these findings is consistent with the region’s collective commitment to uphold and defend the principles articulated in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

He further explained that when the national recount was agreed upon to address those issues, its work was stymied in the courts. The US representative said when the recount was concluded, it was clear that “the opposition had indeed won Guyana’s national elections.”

Chronicling the events which have unfolded since the March 2 elections, the US representative asserted that “in democracies, leaders step aside when they are voted out of office.”

“That speaks to the importance and strength of institutions, not individuals; and to the power of the people, not those who would usurp their power.”

Freden also informed the OAS of the sanctions the USA slapped against individuals who are undermining democracy in Guyana.

“Our action came after months of warnings and expressions of concern. We do not take it lightly. This measure is intended to send a clear message of the consequences of subverting democracy and the rule of law.”

Turning his attention specifically to the David Granger-led coalition, Freden said “A Partnership for National Unity – and its leaders – face a stark choice. Does it want to be a leader in the hemisphere and a democratic exemplar? Or does it want to be an international pariah?”

“Does Guyana want to have a functioning executive and legislature so it can pass the laws it needs to encourage the development of its people? Or does it want to remain a country whose leaders cannot travel and are subject to sanctions?”