GEORGETOWN, Guyana May 13, 2021 - The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) has objected to the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) involvement in reforming the Guyana Elections Commission and playing any role in electoral reform in Guyana. It has characterised IRI, the implementing agency as unacceptable.
In a statement today, Guyana’s Human Rights body said the timing of the project is wrong and “Guyanese have nothing to learn from an institution whose parent body is leading influence in fascism. How can such a party of its affiliated institutions lead a process where compromise is central to success? Which Guyanese civic organization is willing to risk its integrity by collaborating with an agency representing such anti-democratic lawlessness.”
The Human Rights Association noted that ”Continued association with Republican politics, even with ‘Republicanism-lite’ in the form of the IRI, is unacceptable.
If external electoral assistance is needed in Guyana, CARICOM in general and Jamaica in particular, would be the place to start.
This IRI-led project should be suspended,” the GHRA said in a strongly worded statement.
The GHRA also cautioned that in the absence of compromise, the electoral reform process could become embroiled in a controversy over the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.
Already, that decades-old human rights non-governmental organisation has noted that under the then Donald Trump-led US administration, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) destroyed Guyana’s diplomatic posture towards Venezuela by being listed among American allies that had denounced Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro administration. “In return for its support during the electoral crisis in Guyana the Trump Government, in the person of the then Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, exacted a high price from the current ruling party. By listing Guyana among countries denouncing the Madura Government, the US destroyed Guyana’s delicately crafted and decades-long posture of non-interference in internal affairs of Venezuela,” the GHRA said.
“The fundamental challenge to electoral reform in Guyana is the vulnerability and ease of ethnic manipulation by political parties. Resolving this deep-seated issue cannot begin with elections. In political terms, the fundamental work for electoral reform consists of building compromise across all sectors,” The GHRA said.
The body said that there needs to first be respect and cooperation on the part of political leaders before moving ahead with any such reforms citing the noninvolvement of the opposition on certain state boards.
The GHRA recommended that the foundation for electoral reform be laid by building compromise across all sectors. “This is the preparatory task which should begin immediately.”
Among the steps that could be taken, according to the association, are opportunities to cooperate with organizations of other ethnicities, ensure governing Boards are inclusive – whether they be sports federations, religious associations, trade unions and business, cultural or philanthropic.
The local human rights body noted that the board members listed on the IRI web-site are “a veritable who’s who of the Republican establishment” including party grandees Senators Lindsay Graham, Marco Rubio, Mitt Romney and Dan Anderson. With the exception of Mitt Romney, the GHRA said “none of these IRI stalwarts have publicly distanced themselves from the Trump-led mayhem following the November US election results, nor from the persecution of Congresswoman Cheney for doing so, nor from the on-going Republican campaign to disenfranchise voters in traditionally democratic States.”
IRI officials in Guyana have been meeting with Government and Opposition officials about the electoral reform project, However, a meeting with the Elections Commission fell through.