Guyanese at home and in the diaspora praise the position taken by the US (on April 2) for a full-throated commitment to democracy in their homeland that every ballot must be counted fairly and transparently. The world was unfortunately treated to a tawdry public spectacle of electoral fraud that denigrates the country. Guyanese recognize that the US helped to restore democracy in Guyana in 1992 with the first democratic elections in post-independent Guyana. The renewed US position on democracy in Guyana was delivered in a statement by Her Excellency Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch. As Guyanese note, she is one tough Ambassador not willing to compromise her position on electoral integrity and transparency.
In a very short period of time as the US Rep in Guyana, Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch distinguished herself in the country with her position on democracy. Ambassador Lynch is successfully advancing American interests in Guyana and US-Guyana relations have improved significantly under her watch.
There have been several bilateral arrangements. Several high level American delegations of security strategists and from Congress visited Guyana. She has promoted greater engagements with Guyana especially in trade. The American Chamber of Commerce has been formed under her watch.As the Ambassador must have recognized, working in Guyana is not easy especially in dealing with some characters who are prone to undemocratic practices and authoritarian instincts. There are some prominent individuals who are very quietness in the face of electoral fraud. But she also would have recognized many among civil society not afraid of speaking out against undemocratic behavior.
The Ambassador has faced some criticism for the American position on electoral democracy being described by defenders of APNU as interference in a sovereign state. In other words, these shoddy characters are defending electoral fraud. They are telling the US government and the Ambassador that fraud in Guyana is not America’s business.
The Ambassador’s statement is a smart, reasoned explanation of the US position on democratic governance. Guyana is fortunate to have her as US Ambassador. She has a right to express the opinion of her country on affairs in Guyana. She has remained within the norms of diplomacy. She complied with all State Department rules and regulations. The US Ambassador spoke candidly and from the heart on her support for democracy. It is unprecedented for a diplomat to speak so forcefully on that subject in Guyana. She demonstrated publicly where the US stood at this critical juncture in the political life of Guyana to which she has been accredited. Her diplomacy, as well as those of the representatives of the BCE countries, on the elections has earned respect and won accolades in Guyana, the diaspora, and around the world (international observers) for her (their) efforts in defending democracy in Guyana. Guyanese extol her sincerity in standing on the side of democracy. She is (all the diplomats are) against electoral fraud. They have distinguished their behavior in the conduct of diplomacy.
The Guyanese diaspora wants Ambassador Lynch to know she is not alone in this struggle for democracy in Guyana. They see her behavior as well as those of the other (BCE) diplomats and international observers extraordinary and exemplary, a model to emulate and have joined the call to count every ballot. Guyanese are most grateful for the integrity displayed by the Ambassador and praise her role in condemning bare-faced electoral fraud.
As a political scientist, I study international diplomacy. The letter from Her Excellency is a rare wash down of a country by a diplomat in any part of the world. Only Zimbabwe and a few other dictatorships received such scolding by a diplomat. South Africa also was lectured by the US for not ending apartheid and not giving Blacks equal rights including the right to vote. In Guyana, this election showed that people have a right to vote but not a right to a count of the vote. The US finds this position offensive. Ambassador Lynch’s statement sought to reinforce that right to people vote and their vote must be counted correctly.
The Ambassador’s statement is a pattern issued by so many other governments. It is not unique. It is a standard for countries to speak out against fraud as they did in electoral malpractices in other countries. Thus, Guyana government’s criticism of the diplomats’ position on democracy is misguided and unfortunate. Guyana is a major recipient of US aid. And hundreds of thousands of Guyanese live in America. The criticism of the US on democratic elections will only seek to harm relations. It is hoped that relations that have been frayed with the US over the American demand for a proper elections count would make an easy mend. She lays down the end rule – count the ballots transparently. The US will not close its eye to electoral fraud. Restoration of normal relations can only come about through a proper count of the ballots and a declaration of the real winner.
Guyanese thank the professionalism and commitment of the Ambassador on democracy. Glowing tributes are paid to her dedication, commitment, and relentless effort in standing up for democracy in Guyana. It is noted that she is a professional with a character of integrity and that she has exhibited exceptional skills in the field of diplomacy. They also praise her diplomatic behavior that has been measured in the circumstance of Gecom fraud. The Ambassador is steadfast in her commitment to democracy. Her words in support of democracy will come to nothing if she is not prepared to consistently stand by them if a free and fair count is not carried out.The statement of Her Excellency on US commitment to democracy has shone a bright light on the U.S foreign-service that people are increasingly seeing as being different from the days of supporting some dictatorships through the 1980s. Her statement heralds the professionalism and courage that U.S foreign-service diplomats exhibit when faced with serious challenges such as violations of human rights and democratic concepts. There is no doubt that Ambassador Lynch and her other diplomatic colleagues went through a lot of stress during the election period, but that did not break down her (and the other diplomats’) fortress to stand up to electoral injustice. She has stood strong and has impressed Guyanese with her.
The Ambassador’s letter has exuded confidence among Guyanese that fraud would not be condoned. US-Guyana strategic ties will be further enhanced under her watch when this election fiasco has been resolved with a proper count of ballots.
May I use this opportunity to salute the great work of this selfless diplomat (and others) and who has now become a promoter of democracy in Guyana. And may I thank the US government for being a beacon of hope of democracy in Guyana. May I appeal to those Guyanese, especially some in Brooklyn, spreading nasty lies on social media about the Ambassador and some other diplomats to stop (cease and desist) their attacks.