US assures Guyana of support in strengthening electoral systems

A poll place during the March 2, 2020 election in Guyana

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has assured that his government is willing to assist Guyana in strengthening and modernising its electoral systems in order to make the process more democratic and transparent.

The commitment comes on the heels of the tumultuous five months Guyanese endured after they voted on March 2, 2020 – a period where the country’s democracy was under severe threat as the then incumbent David Granger-led party refused to accept its electoral defeat.

“Well we certainly stand ready to help,” Pompeo said in an interview with the State-owned NCN TV during his recent high-level visit to Guyana.

“We know what makes a free and fair election – the central idea of every person gets to vote; who wants to vote, and who is eligible, every vote gets counted in a way that everyone is satisfied and knows that their vote was counted.”

Pompeo added: “There is a fairness that’s associated with it [the process] and it comes with an openness and transparency, so that the rules, the leadership, the policies that flow from that government that is duly elected, fairly reflects what is it the people are demanding through their own democratic systems.”

According to Pompeo, the United States is very proud of countries like Guyana who have demonstrated that they have the capacity to hold free and fair elections and have a peaceful transition to power.

“We want to stand right alongside them and will help them to be successful,” the US Secretary of State assured.

L-R: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Guyana President Dr Irfaan Ali at State House [Office of the President Photo]

The top official pointed to mechanisms and other election monitoring systems in the CARICOM region. He also cited the outstanding work done by other multilateral institutions which could be useful to countries in the region in strengthening their electoral management capacity.

Pompeo had played a prominent role in pushing for democracy and the will of the people to be respected in Guyana.

During the period after Guyanese went to the polls, Pompeo issued several statements urging the then President David Granger to respect the results of the elections and allow for a smooth transition of government to the duly elected PPP/C.

After the Granger-led administration insisted on holding on to power, Pompeo announced visa restrictions against “officials who were responsible for undermining democracy”.

Earlier this month, Pompeo had reached out to President Dr Irfaan Ali to extend congratulations and to pledge the support of the US to Guyana on developmental issues.

Many electoral observers, over the years and during the recent election, have repeatedly stressed the need for electoral reforms and a more modern voting process.