US Ambassador says sanctions “still on the table” for Guyana over electoral fraud

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The UK, EU, US and Canadian envoys walking away from the GECOM Command Centre amid concerns about the tabulation process. (Don Singh photo) 

As much as the threat of sanctions hangs over Guyana’s head over electoral fraud, it is an option the United States is hopeful it will not have to use. This is according to US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch.

During a local radio programme on Wednesday, Lynch explained that sanctions range in seriousness from targeted measures such as individual visa restrictions to financial measures that could impact the economy.

“You’ve seen some of the statements coming out of Washington. Secretary (of State Mike) Pompeo. Assistant Secretary (Michael) Kozak. The National Security Council. They have been very strong. And Secretary Pompeo did point to serious consequences if the democratic process, the rule of law, and the principles of democracy are not followed in Guyana.

“So, sanctions are a set of tools in the toolkit that potentially can be explored. Decisions on sanctions – first of all, they range from issues of visa restrictions to issues of financial measures. So, it’s a range of things that can be discussed and looked into. And those decisions are made at the highest levels of the Government in Washington, with the inter-agency fully concurring.”

According to her, it is still too early to say whether sanctions are likely to be applied. She pointed to the fact that for now, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) appears to be doing its job and facilitating the recount to general satisfaction.

A ballot box during the recount. [Photo taken from Facebook Page of Shaz Ally]
Asked if there would be a timeline the US was looking at before drawing a line, she emphasised that the effort is a Guyanese-led one and the US did not have a specific timeline in mind.

It has already been over two months of controversy and a credible winner for the March 2 General and Regional Elections is yet to be declared. After two declarations from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, which lacked transparency, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and caretaker President David Granger had agreed to have the Caribbean Community (Caricom) oversee the recount.

That agreement was derailed when A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) candidate Ulita Moore moved to the courts and secured an injunction against the exercise.

That injunction was discharged by the Full Court and later, the Full Court’s decision was upheld by the Appeals Court. But by then, the Caricom team had long since left. GECOM re-invited them and the recount started last week with the understanding that it would last for 25 days.

In the meantime, countries and organisations from all around the world have said that the earlier tabulation process done by the GECOM lacked credibility. This is compounded by the warnings from several Governments, including the United States’, that officials could face sanctions if President Granger is sworn in based on this questionable process.