Guyana govt refuses to approve return of Carter Centre observers

Last Updated on Sunday, 3 May 2020, 14:37 by Denis Chabrol

Then Minister of State and General Secretary of A Partnership of National Unity (APNU), Mr. Joseph Harmon, Minister of Social Protection and General Secretary of the People’s National Congress (PNC), Ms. Amna Ally and Political Advisor, Dr. Mark Kirton, this afternoon, met with Carter Center representatives Associate Director, Ms. Brett Lacy and Legal and Electoral Advisor Ms. Anne Marlborough at the Ministry of the Presidency.

The United States (US) says the Guyana government has refused to give the green light for the return of Carter Centre observers on Monday, even as the United Nations (UN), Canada and the European Union added its voice to the call.

The US  Embassy  said it was informed on Saturday, May 2 that an incoming May 4 flight had been approved by the Task Force to repatriate Americans, Permanent Residents and in-transit passengers “but not the arrival of the observers.”

American embassy spokeswoman, Violeta Talandis said “there was no official response given as to why” the observers, numbering “under 10”,  would not be allowed to enter Guyana.

The United States (US) Embassy indicated on Sunday that the request has been escalated to President David Granger.

“Subsequently, we have sought reconsideration of this matter at the highest levels in recognition that the observer missions illustrate the commitment of the caretaker government and the international community to a free, fair and transparent recount process,” Talandis told reporters.

The Head of the United Nations system in Guyana, Mikiko Tanaka,  Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjeee, and European Union Ambassador, Fernando Ponz Cantó in separate tweets, have called on the Guyana government to facilitate the return of the Carter Centre observers.

This request dates back to April 29 when, by diplomatic note the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was sought in obtaining permission for flights on May 4, 2020 and May 30,2020.

These flights serve a dual purpose, with the inbound flight on May 4 carrying accredited international observer missions to Guyana for the recount process and the outbound flights serving to repatriate U.S. Nationals, Legal Permanent Residents and Third Country Nationals.

The May 30 flight was requested to return the observers to the United States along with U.S. citizens, Legal Permanent Residents and Third Country Nationals who wish to return to or transit to their homes.

The embassy said the inbound flight request was made on behalf of the Carter Center and the International Republican Institute with reference to other observer missions that also my wish to avail themselves of the requested flights.

“The  diplomatic note referenced the observer’s intentions to comply with the COVID-19 testing and quarantine measures,” the embassy spokeswoman said.

The Embassy said it sent a copy of the diplomatic note to the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority accompanied by a request to advance the issue to Guyana’s COVID-19 Task Force.

The foreign observers had had to endure some amount of hostility, including blocking them from entering the Guyana Elections Commission headquarters to witness a second tabulation and declaration of results for Region Four, from  supporters of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change.

Three Caribbean Community observers were allowed to enter Guyana on a chartered flight to scrutinise the recount of the votes cast in March 2, 2020 elections.