Congressman urges US not to interfere in Guyana’s disputed elections

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

NEW YORK – A high-ranking United States Democratic congressman has strongly urged US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah Ann Lynch and Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs at the US Department of State, Michael Kozak, not to interfere in Guyana’s disputed March 2 elections.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is currently conducting a countrywide recount of all ballots in the presence of Caribbean Community scrutineers.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, chairman of the US House of Representatives’ Democratic Caucus, accused the US State Department officials of interfering in the elections to benefit Guyana’s main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic.

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries

“Traditionally, we can monitor how democracy is playing itself out in different parts of the world but to interfere in such an extraordinary way and in a manner which favours one party, the opposition party, potentially to the detriment of the ruling party, is deeply troubling to a lot of us in Washington, DC,” said Jeffries, who represents the 8th US Congressional District in New York.

Jeffries, whose district encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and Queens, New York, with a significant concentration of Caribbean immigrants, made the comment on a television show hosted by Rickford Burke, president of the New York-based Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy.

Burke claimed that the US government officials have also made several threatening statements against officials of President David Granger’s ruling APNU+AFC coalition government, as well as against GECOM officials.

“I do find it somewhat ironic that, at the same time when the US government may be trying to direct Guyana as to how it should conduct itself in the form of an election, that we’ve been so irresponsible in many parts of the country, like in Wisconsin, where there is a refusal to permit universal access to mail-in voting and you compel people to vote in densely packed polling sites, as was done in a Wisconsin election in early April, in a manner that may have contributed to community spread in terms of COVID-19,” said Jeffries.

“It seems to me that we are not in a position to tell anybody, until we get our own act together, as it relates to how faithfully we conduct a free and fair election,” he added.

He called on US government officials to allow the Guyanese people to freely elect its government without interference from them.

“It is appropriate to broadly ensure that there is a free and fair election in Guyana, and in other parts of the world, that does not result in the United States trying to sway or alter the results, one way or the other,” Jeffries said.

“The people of Guyana should be able to decide, as they have done in the past, who they see fit to lead them into the future,” he added.