Link between unresolved general elections and international COVID-19 aid “inaccurate” – Min of Presidency

Last Updated on Saturday, 25 April 2020, 12:06 by Denis Chabrol

Two days after Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo said Guyana’s unresolved political situation was stymieing international assistance to fight the coronavirus, COVID-19, the Ministry of the Presidency deemed that assertion “inaccurate.”

President David Granger has since restructured the National COVID-19 Task Force and appointed Joseph Harmon as its Chief Executive Officer to, among other things, provide “accurate information with regard to COVID-19 to the public.”

Nagamootoo, who is Chairman of the National COVID-19 Task Force, said on Thursday that, “I believe that also, because of the political situation, in Guyana while we are in transition to a government that emerged after March 2, 2020, that we cannot say for sure whether some of these international, multilateral lending agencies are going to be dealing with Guyana’s applications any time soon.” Nagamootoo also reasoned that international multilateral and bilateral aid partners might “probably would want to sit it out and wait until the President is sworn in.”

The United States government has since provided US$475,000 in “humanitarian” aid for the American Centres for Disease Control (CDC) to work with the Public Health Ministry to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The Ministry of the Presidency remarked that “Guyana remains engaged with several of its partners.”

The Ministry of the Presidency did not name Nagamootoo, but in clear reference to his statements rubbished any relationship between international COVID-19 aid and the political situation.

“The Ministry wishes to make it clear that no international or financial institution has linked support to the Guyana’s national COVID-19 campaign to the outcome of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections,” the Ministry of the Presidency said.

The United States, Britain and Canada have repeatedly cautioned that Guyana can be isolated if the election results are not credible and transparent.

The Ministry of the Presidency stressed that “no international financial institution has indicated that financial aid has been made conditional upon the completion of the electoral process.”

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is putting the finishing touches on arrangements to start a national recount of the more than 400,000 votes cast in last month’s general and regional council elections.

Harmon, who is also the Ministry of the Presidency’s Director-General, would be responsible for restarting much needed assistance to vulnerable communities since the virtual lockdown of commercial activities and restrictions on the movement of people across the country in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.