Guyana calls for upholding of democracy amidst COVID-19 fight

-at OAS General Assembly

Guyana has called on all independent states of the Americas to uphold the principles of democracy and human rights, even in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, Hon. Hugh Todd made the call today, during his virtual address to the 50th Session of the Organisation of American States (OAS) General Assembly.

Minister Todd said Guyana is “very concerned” about the increasing challenges to democracy in the hemisphere and around the world, many of which were worsened by the onset COVID-19.  

“As a consequence of the pandemic, more than 67 countries and territories have had elections postponed and more than 80 countries have declared a state of emergency, with a consequent deterioration in the quality of democracy and respect for human rights in most of those countries,” Minister Todd told the virtual confab.

The Minister said collective vigilance and mutual support, along with political will and citizen participation will see democracy prevailing.  

“We must therefore, monitor ourselves daily for any regression from upholding the principles of democracy and human rights and we must be careful, moreover, not to allow the fragilities and vulnerabilities of our countries, particularly of small developing countries, to be completely undermined by this pandemic,” he told the 35 independent states of the Americas.

Guyana went to the polls on March 2, days before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a pandemic.

The months following the elections saw intense legal battles between the PPP/C and the then APNU+AFC Government over the true winner of the polls; although the results showed the PPP/C had won the elections.

The OAS which had dispatched an observer mission here, had continuously criticised the former APNU+AFC Government for its refusal to step down.

Minister Todd said Guyana is committed to upholding the principles of democracy and the rule of law.

“It is in this regard, that I extend, on behalf of the Government and People of Guyana, to Secretary-General Luis Almagro and officials of the General Secretariat, in particular the Department of Electoral Co-operation and Observation, as well as the member states of the Organization, sincere gratitude for the support provided during our recent electoral crisis, which culminated in the will of the Guyanese people being respected and democracy and the rule of law triumphing, after five tense long months.”

Meanwhile, Minister Todd said Guyana will continue to play its part, as a responsible member of the hemispheric community, to advance a coherent hemispheric agenda, based on the OAS’s main pillars of democracy, human rights, security, and development.

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Coronavirus disease spreads primarily through contact with an infected person when they cough or sneeze. It also spreads when a person touches a surface or object that has the virus on it, then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth. We urge citizens to practice good hygiene and social or physical distancing also adhere to the guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health, Guyana.