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US to continue calling for local govt elections

US Embassy, Georgetown, Guyana.

The United States (US) government is not about to let up on its public advocacy for local government elections, despite the recent spat with the Guyana government over then Ambassador, Brent Hardt’s remarks, according to a senior Western Diplomat.

“We have a US Government policy, not an Ambassador’s policy and that policy is articulated not only by the Ambassador,” said the diplomat at a briefing for editors.

From all accounts, the US intends to continue making the Guyanese public aware of Washington’s position in the context of the Obama administration’s foreign policy on matters such as human rights and democracy.

The official stressed that his government’s view is that local government elections are important. “That’s not going to change. These are international obligations,” he said.  The US has said that Guyana’s refusal to hold the polls since 1997 has amounted to not only a violation of the constitution and law but also the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Commonwealth Charter. The United Kingdom has said that no local government poll for such a long time was a stain on this former British colony’s democracy.

On whether the forthright remarks about glaring inconsistencies and excuses by President Donald Ramotar and the governing Peoples Progressive Party’s (PPP) General Secretary, Clement Rohee amounted to interference in Guyana’s internal affairs, the Western Diplomat said “we never contemplated heading in that particular direction.”

The diplomat sought to rubbish assertions that Guyana-US relations sank to an all-time low when the Guyana government, through its Acting Foreign Minister Priya Manickchand, humiliated Hardt for meddling in Guyana’s internal affairs by strongly advocating for local government elections. “The relationship is very much on track,” said the diplomat who pointed to cooperation in security, health and the environment.

Describing the Manickchand-Hardt clash as a “historical fact,” the Western diplomat emphasized that it was time for the two countries to move forward. “I think if you want to look at the significance of our cooperation, we are at one of the closest periods of cooperation we have ever had,” he said.

The US, UK, Canada and European Union have taken a unified position that Guyana must hold the long-overdue elections.