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Commonwealth Secretary-General statement on resolution of Guyana electoral impasse

3 August 2020
Statement by: Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Patricia Scotland

I extend congratulations to His Excellency Dr Irfan Ali upon his swearing-in as President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana following the declaration of the 2 March General Election and Regional election results on 2 August 2020 by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). 

I commend former President, His Excellency David Granger, for his stewardship of Guyana since 2015, and for conceding in recognition of the declaration made by GECOM and in accordance with his commitment to honour the declaration made by the Chairperson of the Guyana Electoral Commission, consistent with the Constitution of Guyana.

Through challenging times, the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice Claudette Singh (Ret’d) exemplified the courage, fortitude and grace required to uphold the constitution and the rule of law. I wish to thank her for the bravery and strength of purpose that she demonstrated throughout.

The Commonwealth Charter recognises the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live and for this right to be protected and respected. On behalf of the entire Commonwealth family, I commend the people of Guyana for your continued patience and peace.

I wish to reaffirm the Commonwealth’s unwavering commitment to supporting the people of Guyana in their quest to strengthen democratic and inclusive governance and ensure sustainable socio-economic development in the country.

In this regard, I welcome the swearing-in remarks by President Ali that his Government will work in the interest of every Guyanese. I urge all political actors to embrace dialogue and tolerance towards fostering national reconciliation and cohesion for all Guyanese. 

Profound gratitude, too, to the two Commonwealth Senior Electoral Advisers, deployed in January under the auspices of my good offices to support GECOM: Dr Nasim Zaidi, former Chief Election Commissioner of India; and Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former Chairman of the Ghana Elections Commission, who is still on the ground in Guyana, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Commonwealth will forever remember your selfless service. 

Finally, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group to the 2 March General and Regional Elections was the indefatigable, Rt Hon Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados, who sadly passed away recently.

As one of his very last gifts of notable leadership to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth, which he loved, he worked for Guyana to maintain its trajectory on a democratic path. He would have rejoiced witnessing this momentous and peaceful democratic landmark for Guyana. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

As always, I encourage any electoral grievances to be pursued through the prescribed legal channels.

May God bless Guyana and all her people