Commonwealth, US Welcome Election of New President in Guyana

President Irfaan Ali flanked by (l-r) Attorney General Anil Nandlall, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Gail Teixeira.

LONDON, Aug 3, CMC – Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, has welcomed the election of Dr. Irfaan Ali as the new head of state in Guyana, thanking his predecessor, David Granger for his “stewardship” of the country.

Ali, 40, was sworn into office on Sunday a few hours after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had declared him the victor of the March 2 election. GECOM also said that the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) had won 32 of the 65 seats in the National Assembly, with the outgoing coalition, a Partnership for National Unity (APNU) winning 31 seats and one seat going to amalgam of opposition parties.

The APNU has since indicated it intends to file election petitions challenging the results.

In her congratulatory message, Scotland said that GECOM chairman retired justice Claudette Singh had “through challenging times…exemplified the courage, fortitude and grace required to uphold the constitution and the rule of law.

“I wish to thank her for the bravery and strength of purpose that she demonstrated throughout,” Scotland said, noting that the Commonwealth Charter recognises the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live and for this right to be protected and respected.”

She said on behalf of the 54-member Commonwealth grouping “I commend the people of Guyana for your continued patience and peace.

“I wish to reaffirm the Commonwealth’s unwavering commitment to supporting the people of Guyana in their quest to strengthen democratic and inclusive governance and ensure sustainable socio-economic development in the country.”

Scotland said that she was heartened by the remarks made by Ali during the swearing in ceremony that he and his government intend to “work in the interest of every Guyanese.

“I urge all political actors to embrace dialogue and tolerance towards fostering national reconciliation and cohesion for all Guyanese,” she said, praising the work also done by the Commonwealth electoral advisors.

Scotland also paid tribute to the former Barbados prime minister Owen, Arthur, who had headed the Commonwealth Observer team to the elections. Arthur died last month in his homeland, Barbados after suffering heart related complications.

“As one of his very last gifts of notable leadership to the Caribbean and the Commonwealth, which he loved, he worked for Guyana to maintain its trajectory on a democratic path. He would have rejoiced witnessing this momentous and peaceful democratic landmark for Guyana. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

“As always, I encourage any electoral grievances to be pursued through the prescribed legal channels,” Scotland added.

Meanwhile, the United States has also welcomed Ali’s election, saying that “democracy rules in Guyana.

Acting Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Western Affairs at the US State Department, Michael Kozak, in a twitter message also added that Ali had been sworn into office “reflecting the will of the Guyanese people.

“We congratulate President Ali & look forward to working with all to support Guyana’s development for the benefit of all its people,” he tweeted.

Washington had threatened to impose visa restrictions on members of the last administration as Guyana awaited the outcome of the polls. – CMC