Carter Centre calls for Guyana’s leaders, civil society to get on with constitutional reform

Last Updated on Monday, 3 August 2020, 19:57 by Denis Chabrol

Jason Carter of the Carter Centre speaking to reporters outside the Guyana Elections Commission.

The Carter Centre has urged Guyanese politicians from both ends of the political divide to work towards ensuring that electoral and constitutional reform is a top priority and that all these matters are settled before the next round of elections.

The Centre made this statement on Monday while commending the Guyana Elections Commission and Chairperson Retired Justice Claudette Singh for finalizing the results of the 2020 election. It also congratulated President Dr. Irfaan Ali as he assumed Guyana’s highest office and applauded former President David Granger’s statesmanship in recognizing GECOM’s declaration of results.

“It is critical that key leaders in Guyana now reach across the divide and work to ensure that fundamental electoral and constitutional reforms are completed as an urgent priority, well before the next election. Guyana’s political leaders spoke of these ideals during the campaign period, and the Center calls on them now to work together to realize them,” the statement added.

This is not the first time that the Carter Centre has recommended constitutional reform. Back in 2004, former United States President Jimmy Carter had left Guyana very disappointed that then President Bharrat Jagdeo had rejected calls for constitutional reform and shared governance.

The Center, which has been engaged in Guyana’s political landscape since 1990, said the 2020 election was a true test of Guyana’s democracy, highlighting deep divides that persist in Guyanese society and the ways that the current political and electoral systems reinforce these divisions. The Center had expressed grief disappointment by the former government’s decision not to approve its recent requests to allow two accredited international observers to return to Guyana to observe the recount and the remainder of Guyana’s electoral process.

The Center said, “An inclusive reform process – with civil society leaders playing a key role, and with strong support from the international community – will be essential. The Center now calls on all political parties to work together to facilitate a smooth transition from one government to another. The Guyanese people have shown great patience throughout this protracted process, and they deserve a government that represents all Guyanese and that works collaboratively to move the country forward.”

It urged the new government to move quickly to begin this process and said it stands ready to assist in these efforts and advance Guyana’s vast potential.

The United States, Canada, Britain and the European Union have also issued  a similar call to the the People’s Progressive Party-led administration. Mr. Jagdeo is on record as repeatedly saying that once the election results are declared the PPP would be ready to sit down and talk about a new governance model for Guyana.

Though the David Granger-led administration had promised constitutional reform in its 2015 election campaign, very little had been done to get bipartisan and nationwide consultations off the ground.

(Samuel Sukhnandan)