U.S. urges “genuinely free, fair elections”

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New U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, makes a presentation after presenting her Letters of Credence to President David Granger at the Ministry of the Presidency (Adrian Narine photo)

…New ambassador supports constitutional, judicial process

NEWLY appointed U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, on Wednesday said Washington will continue to encourage “genuinely free and fair elections” here.

Her comments come at a time when there are concerns about the integrity of the voters’ list here and strong calls for a fresh round of house-to-house registration. Ambassador Lynch made the comments at her accreditation ceremony at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Ambassador Lynch was sworn in at the State Department in Washington DC on March 1, 2019 and presented her Letters of Credence to President David Granger on Wednesday.

“During our long relationship with Guyana we have witnessed significant progress. We have seen a strengthening of [the] democratic process and political institutions, along with broader political participation and citizen representation,” Lynch stated.

“Moving forward, we will continue to encourage genuinely free and fair elections; freedom of speech and assembly; multi-party representation and a constitutional judiciary process.”
Government supporters, in calling for a new round of house-to-house registration, have said it would ensure that youths who have attained the age of 18 being eligible to vote and will be added to the list and granted their democratic right to vote.

House-to-house registration would also see the removal of dead persons from the current list —expiring on April 30, 2019 — which, as agreed by both political sides, is largely bloated.

These matters and more have arisen since the passage of a no-confidence motion against the government in December, 2018, which signified that it must now hold elections within a three-month period or within an extended period, as agreed by a two-thirds vote of the National Assembly.

The President, having met with the opposition and the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), has since called on the electoral body to present him with a work programme on the shortest possible time that credible elections can be held. As recent as Tuesday, the commission was forced to halt efforts towards this end as opposition-nominated commissioners staged a walkout of the critical meeting. Other commissioners have assessed the move, occurring now for the third consecutive time, as the deliberate “engineering of a constitutional crisis.”

REGIONAL LEADER
Ambassador Lynch also said that she is impressed by the history and collaboration between the two countries and stated that as Guyana embarks on significant transition and growth, the U.S. will continue its support. “Your nation is poised to become a regional leader with unprecedented opportunity. While there are still many challenges to overcome, we remain committed to collaboration with the Government and people of Guyana to rise about [sic] those challenges and prepare for a bright future,” Lynch stated.
“We will emphasise the importance of citizen- security and territorial integrity along your long- established borders.”

Ambassador Lynch served until recently as the Acting Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). She has also served as the Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for LAC; USAID Mission Director in Iraq; and the Director of the Office of Iraq and Arabian Peninsula Affairs in USAID’s Middle East Bureau.
A career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Ambassador Lynch has been with USAID

since 1993, and served overseas in Bangladesh, Peru, Afghanistan and Iraq. In Washington, she has served in the regional bureaus of the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance, and the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs (OAPA). She has received numerous awards, including USAID’s Distinguished Honor Award, the Agency’s highest performance award, for her service in Afghanistan and OAPA. Before joining USAID, Ambassador Lynch worked in international relations and for a non-governmental organisation.

She also served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, where she taught English at the secondary-school level. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, the ambassador holds Master’s degrees from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and the National War College. She replaces former Ambassador Perry Holloway, who has retired.