Last Updated on Saturday, 15 August 2020, 19:44 by Denis Chabrol
The United States (US) on Saturday welcomed Guyana’s decision to join several other countries around the world in calling for Venezuelans, including the military, back the establishment of a transition government to prepare for free and fair general elections.
“Great to see Guyana adds its voice for the call to restore democracy in Venezuela. The US encourages all democratic countries to commit to helping the Venezuelan people achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future,” said US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs, Michael Kozak. He was one of the top US State Department officials who had publicly called on the then David Granger-led administration to respect the outcome of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections and abide by the national vote recount data.
They said the transitional government should be responsible for conducting the polls to ensure fairness. “For a peaceful and sustainable resolution of the crisis, a transitional government is needed to administer presidential elections, so that no candidate has an improper advantage over others,” they said.
Guyana, which is a member of the Lima Group, had not endorsed all of the loosely-knit entity’s statements on Venezuela in recent months, but coming soon after the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was declared the winner of the general elections, this country joined with other countries and groups to call for broad-based support among Venezuelans for an interim government.
They “call upon all Venezuelans, of all ideological tendencies and party affiliations, whether civilian or military, to put the interests of Venezuela above politics and engage urgently in support of a process shaped and driven by Venezuelans to establish an inclusive transitional government that will lead the country into free and fair presidential elections, sooner not later.”
Adding their voices to the call were a “group of concerned countries” including members of the Lima Group, the International Contact Group, the European Union, the United States and others. They also cautioned Venezuelans against merely seeing National Assembly elections as a solution to the political and socio-economic crisis in the country. “National Assembly elections alone do not present a political solution and instead may further polarize an already divided society,” the joint statement says.
This the second time in less than one month that the Irfaan Ali-led administration has backed the US’ position, the first having been support for the American nominee for the President of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). President Ali has made it clear that he was breaking with convention that the IDB presidency would always be held by a Latin American.
The caretaker administration of a coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) had rejected US request earlier this year to use Guyana’s medium wave frequencies to beam Voice of America radio programmes to Venezuela.
The Lima Group, International Contact Group, European Union and the United States called on all institutions to participate in a process to set up a transition government and the the holding of democratic presidential election. They said they were willing to soften financial and trade sanctions on Venezuela if the political climate improves towards democracy. “We reiterate the willingness of all those countries maintaining economic sanctions to discuss sanctions relief in the context of political progress,” they said in the statement.
The groups said the process towards the formation of a broad-based transition government should include the ability of the National Assembly to fully carry out its functions and the restoration of the independence and of the Supreme Court and National Electoral Council.
“We call on all political parties and institutions in Venezuela to engage promptly in, or in support of, a process that will establish a broadly acceptable transitional government that will administer free and fair presidential elections soon and begin to set the country on a pathway to recovery,” the Lima Group, International Contact Group, European Union and the US said.
They said a swift and peaceful transition to democracy is the most effective and sustainable route to stability, recovery and prosperity in Venezuela. They pledged to remain committed to helping the Venezuelan people achieve a peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.
The groups called for an end to all political persecution and acts of repression. They noted that human rights defenders, humanitarian actors, health workers, journalists, members of Venezuela’s indigenous communities, members of the National Assembly under the leadership of Juan Guaido, and the Venezuelan population at large have all faced increased repression in Venezuela.