By Feona Morrison
When one is to consider what happened on elections day in Guyana and the events that unravelled thereafter, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah Ann-Lynch says she finds it strange that the general public would agree that over 130 countries, including the United States of America are trying to interfere in Guyana’s affairs.
Ambassador Lynch made this disclosure recently on ‘Context’, a programme produced by the National Communications Network (NCN). During the programme, it was put to the U.S. envoy that she is “claiming to be engaged in good diplomacy.”
It was then asked of the Diplomat if there is a fine line between good diplomacy and interference.
This was Ambassador Lynch’s response, “I have been engaging in good diplomacy and I am very proud of it. Again, having met with a wide variety of people here [in Guyana] and listening, I do feel it is my job to not only listen but to speak out if I see things that are occurring that are not expected or what I would expect in a democracy.”
The Diplomat explained that good diplomacy does not mean you sit quietly. She said that it also means that you listen to all of the folks that are in leadership positions and also average citizens as well. She added, “And you speak up if you feel the need to. I certainly do not see how that could be called interference.”
To support her position, Ambassador Lynch made reference to the Lima Group of which Guyana is a member, and has been speaking out about the crisis in Venezuela in which it is involved in a border dispute at the International Court of Justice.
The Lima Group is a multilateral body that was established following the Lima Declaration on 8 August 2017 in the Peruvian capital of Lima, where representatives of 12 countries met in order to establish a peaceful exit to the crisis in Venezuela
According to the U.S. envoy, “I see Guyana has done that itself as a member of the Lima Group that has spoken up about things that it has seen going on in Venezuela. Many of us can see that that country is certainly not adhering to democratic principles and the rule of law.”
She reminded that Guyana has not been shy about being a part of the Lima Group and speaking up. As U.S. Ambassador to Guyana, she said she feels it is her obligation to do the same; and frankly she added, she has been in pretty good company.
The Diplomat said that Guyana has invited observers from all over the globe to observe its elections. She pointed out that there were observers from the European Union (EU), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Ambassador Lynch went on to disclose that these organizations represent many countries.
“If you add it all up they represent over a 130 countries and if you add their comments to those of the ABCEU countries [United States of America, Great Britain, Canada and the European Union] with those of Norway and France and India you have well over 130 countries saying very much the same things.”
She continued, “I think statements have been consistent whether they were very positive after election day or maybe less than positive after things unravelled after election day. So I would find it surprising that the general public would agree that over 130 countries have interfered.”
It was further asked of Ambassador Lynch that given the importance of Guyana’s 2020 elections, if there is an absolute need for international observers to be above reproach and above suspicion.
In response, she explained that she believes that there is a great role for international observation during the elections. She added that all the observers were invited in by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and other leadership in the government and they played a key role.
“Their job is really to be familiar with the procedures of the elections, listen, observe and speak out if they see that things are being followed and not being followed. I think that the more robust the effort, especially seeing that these were very high stakes elections, very watched elections throughout the globe.”
In the mind of the U.S. envoy, the international observers’ efforts were quite robust on election day but many of them returned to their home country as the election process was not resolved and then came the COVID-19 pandemic.