The following is an opinion piece by Dr Devanand Bhagwan
Rickford Burke’s report to US Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is grossly inaccurate at best, and scandalous at worst. It appears as if his video report was heavily doctored to give a distorted view of the Congressman’s overall opinion on the electoral state of affairs in Guyana. It is noteworthy that about 90% of the Congressman’s comments in the 12-minute video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iT76fmywKi0) centred on “Russian interference” relating to Donald Trump’s election, rather than focusing on the Guyana situation. And Burke failed to include even a tiny mention of fraud to the Congressman.
The U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, issued a candid and coherent statement on April 2 regarding the Guyana March 2 elections. The Ambassador accentuated that the intent of the U.S. officials’ voices is a result of the shared values of the two countries and that that (U.S.) government is “entirely non-partisan about which party wins Guyana’s 2020 elections”. In spite of that statement, Burke declared to the Congressman (more than a month after that statement) that the U.S. Government officials are deliberately partisan to the Opposition (PPP) party. Burke went further to accuse the U.S. Ambassador of having dinner on the night of the elections with someone who “allegedly funds Hezbollah, the terrorist organization.” He also asserted, “We’ve had the U.S. Ambassador and the Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere forcing – bullying the government to relax all the emergency regulations… and allow them [the Carter Center and the Republican Institute] to come to observe the elections.” To say that this statement by Burke is ludicrous is an understatement, as there has been no bullying by any country to ignore the pandemic. (It is compelling to note that several planeloads of passengers arrived in the country within the last few weeks without the required strict COVID-19 requirements!)
The Congressman responded by stating the need for the U.S. to “monitor how democracy is playing itself out in different parts of the world”; he expressed his reprehension about “such an extraordinary way and in the manner that appears to favour one party – the opposition party – potentially to the detriment of the ruling party” in Guyana. While Mr. Jeffries underscores that “it is appropriate to broadly ensure that there is a free and fair election in Guyana”, his subsequent statement is very troubling. He seems to say in what appears to be an edit on the tape (at 6:53), “The people of Guyana should be able to decide, as they’ve done in the past, in elevating PNC and the current Administration… and the ruling party – and the people of Guyana should be able to decide whom they see fit to lead them into the future.”
The most pre-eminent feature of the interview with Mr. Jeffries is what followed Burke’s concern about the talk of sanctions (11:43). It seems as if Burke did not want anyone to hearken to what the Congressman had to say about sanctions, so that part was (awkwardly and glaringly) doctored!
Rickford Burke’s allegation about US. partisanship is a farce. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries needs to be told the truth about attempts at fraud in Guyana, since he philosophises in that interview, “truth crushed to the ground shall rise again”.