-Top US Congressman blasts US gov’t, ambassador for interfering Guyana’s elections
TOP United States Congressman, Hakeem Jeffries, has expressed concern over Washington’s interference in Guyana’s electoral process, a development which he says is “deeply troubling“ to many in the US capital.
On Friday night, Jeffries, who is also Chairman of the Democratic Caucus of the US House of Representatives, said Guyanese should be free to decide who should be elected to lead the country.
US ambassador to Guyana, Sarah Ann-Lynch, among several other western diplomats, has been accused of openly pandering support to the Opposition People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C).
Recently, a photograph surfaced online in which the US Ambassador, in the company of another Western diplomat, can be seen posing cozily with the PPP/C -aligned chair of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Gerry Gouveia, while in the company of a businessman who is said to have ties to the Middle East terrorist group Hezbollah. That photograph was said to have been taken on Elections Day here.
On Friday night, Congressman Jeffries, in scorching responses to questions posed during an interview with Chair of the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID), Rickford Burke, questioned why the US State Department has been interfering in Guyana’s electoral process.
The US needs to cut it out
Burke noted that after the March 2, 2020 polls, every entity which has been engaged by the US lobby firm, Mercury -“including the State Department “- has come out in support of the PPP/C. That firm was hired by the PPP/C to control its elections campaign.
Burke noted that that Acting Assistant Secretary for U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Michael Kozak, made dismissive comments of the country’s electoral process, when matters regarding the counting of votes in Region Four were taken to the courts, after the March 2, 2020 polls.
Burke questioned whether this form of interference was appropriate.
“Not at all, and the United States government needs to cut it out,” Congressman Jeffries said bluntly.
Interference in a broader context
Jeffries said the issue needed to be put in a broader context. He made reference to the 2016 US elections which he said was done “in sweeping and systematic fashion; that was the conclusion of the Mueller report.”
He said that interference by Russia was done in order for President Donald Trump to win the US Presidency, noting the Trump administration welcomed that move, which he noted was not consistent with the democratic process. But that wasn’t enough, Jeffries said.
He added that, in 2019, President Trump solicited foreign interference to influence the 2020 US presidential elections, by pressuring the Ukraine government to target presumptive Democratic nominee, Joe Biden, during the latter’s campaign. “It was a stunning and corrupt abuse of power,” he said.
He said the Ukrainians, Chinese or Russians should not be interfering in the US elections.
Said Jeffries: ”If we are alarmed by foreign interference in our electoral process, why in the world is the United States government engaging in foreign interference in the affairs of an independent nation in Guyana, it is outrageous!”
He said traditionally the US can monitor how democracy is playing out in different parts of the world. However, in Guyana’s scenario, to interfere in such an “extraordinary way”, to favour the opposition, potentially to the detriment of the ruling party, is “deeply troubling to a lot of us in Washington DC.”
Dining with alleged drug trafficker with ties to Hezbollah
Burke raised the incident on Elections Day when it is alleged that Ambassador Lynch, in the company of another western diplomat and Gouveia, among others, were hosted to lunch by the businessman, the alleged drug trafficker and funder of Hezbollah.
Jeffries said that the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives which is led by Congressman Elliot Engel, who is chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, is closely monitoring all the developments in Guyana.
He said it is appropriate to broadly ensure that there is free and fair elections in Guyana and worldwide and carried out in a manner in which the United States does not try to sway the results. ”The people of Guyana should be able to decide who they see fit to lead them into the future,” he added, noting that the question surrounding US interference falls squarely within the House Foreign Affairs committee to ensure the US is conducting its business worldwide in a fair and appropriate manner.
Ever since the March 2, 2020, the US Embassy in Guyana’s Facebook page has been ‘littered’ with tweets from US government comments on this country’s electoral process.
The wait for the results of the elections has entered a third month, with an ongoing recount of the ballots cast in all ten administrative regions being the presumed final nail before a winner is officially declared, although declarations made by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) named the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition as the winner of what is termed the ‘mother of all’ elections in Guyana.