Guyana elections gap irks U.S. envoy

Guyana elections gap irks U.S. envoy
by Brad Savage

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, CMC – Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar on Wednesday forthrightly dismissed a statement by outgoing U.S.Ambassador Brent Hardt who accused the head of state of selectively abiding by the country’s constitution, even as the country awaits long-overdue local government elections.

Hardt, addressing a function earlier this week, said that Ramotar’s reason for not assenting to one of the local government bills was because it was unconstitutional, while at the same time was not holding the local government polls in keeping with the dictates of the constitution.

“He cannot be an inconsistent defender of the constitution, ignoring the constitution’s very clear requirement to hold local government elections and, for that matter, to return bills to parliament no more than 21 days after they are sent to him,} said Hardt.

The American diplomat said none of the “seemingly array of excuses” by Ramotar and the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) for not holding local government elections (LGE) since 1994 was valid.

“By not even setting a date, the government keeps LGE always off in the elusive distant horizon. This purposeful delay after 20 years without elections is, it bears repeating, contrary to the constitution and laws of Guyana,” he said.

But Ramotar, who is here attending the 35th summit of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that Hard spoke at the function “as if he is the governor in the country and not as an ambassador.

I think he would have properly done much better in doing his business as an ambassador. However if he was so concerned about democracy, I think he should probably think about the fact that the United States has been passing laws in their Congress where Guyana nor the rest if the Caribbean doesn’t have a say but we are forced to implement those laws like the financial laws that they recently passed where banks must report American citizens who have their deposits here.”

Ramotar said that many of the issues raised by the American diplomat “are really way out and the ambassador would do very, very well, instead of getting involved in local politics to really represent the interest of his country properly.”