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US President praises Guyana’s respect for democratic institutions; cites role in Hemispheric peace

United States President, Donald Trump on Friday said his country recognizes Guyana’s systems of democracy and governance.

“As your government and the people of Guyana assess the future direction of your country, know that the United States recognizes and honors Guyana’s respect for the principles and integrity of democratic governance and institutions,” Trump told President David Granger in a letter on the occasion of Guyana’s 49th Republic anniversary to be observed on Saturday.

The American leader made no reference to Guyana’s current political impasse over the holding of general elections stemming from the National Assembly’s passage of a no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

However, the American leader’s remarks came two days after top American, British, Canadian and European diplomats met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to find out about its preparedness for general elections. The Carter Center recently mounted a fact-finding mission to Georgetown for the almost identical purpose.

The seven-member GECOM, by majority, earlier this week decided that elections could not be held by March 20 – within the 90-day constitutional time-frame that elections should be held unless two-thirds of the National Assembly decides to grant an extension. Instead, the Commission decided to hold house-to-house registration this year in keeping with its 2019 workplan.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has vowed not to support an extension “at this time”.

The governing coalition and its three elections commissioners have always insisted on the need for fresh house-to-house registration to remove the names of deceased and migrants.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has accused GECOM of conspiring with government and its commissioners to push back the preparation and holding of general elections within 90 days. The PPP had maintained that elections would have been possible in 90 days if GECOM had begun preparations immediately after the no-confidence motion had been passed.

In his Republic Day (February 23) congratulatory message to Guyana, President Trump singled out this South American nation’s role in the Western Hemisphere.

“Guyana is one of the United States’ most important partners in ensuring the Americas remain a zone of democracy, freedom, and security. We look forward to a continuing collaborative partnership going forward, supporting the security and economic interests of both our nations,” he said.

The US has already endorsed Guyana’s sovereignty over all of its 83,000 square miles, and its oil-rich Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf.

Washington also recently scolded Venezuela for its naval interception of a seismic research vessel that had been collecting data in Guyana’s waters for the American oil giant, ExxonMobil.