In a May 6 letter to the US Ambassador to Guyana, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Karen Cummings writing on behalf of the President made it clear that the Government was not budging from its position to keep the Airports closed to incoming passenger flights, thereby leaving out a Carter Center Observer and others who wanted to be part of the observation of the national vote recount.
The US Embassy had written to the Government seeking special approval for officials from the Carter Center and the International Republican Institute to be allowed to come to Guyana aboard an Eastern Airlines relief flight that was coming to the country to ferry out US Citizens and Permanent residents over Coronavirus concerns.
That initial request to the COVID-19 Task Force was denied but was followed by another request that was sent directly to the President on the 4th May, two days before the start of the recount.
In response to the last request, the Foreign Minister in her letter to the Ambassador stated that the Public Health situation in Guyana has changed drastically since the General and Regional Elections on the 2nd March and “the Government requests that its measures to protect its citizens from disease are respected”.
“The Government published an extraordinary issue of the ‘Official Gazette’ on the 16th March and promulgated COVID-19 Emergency Measures on 3rd April”, the letter reminded.
The Foreign Minister pointed to the closure of the two international airports to all international flights except for outgoing, cargo flights, medical evacuation flights, technical stops for fuel only and special authorized flights.
It was also pointed out to the US Ambassador that the President had agreed that a high-level team from CARICOM observe the recount process.
That team was allowed into Guyana on a special chartered flight that was given permission following a request from CARICOM.
The three members of the CARICOM High-Level team had to undergo coronavirus tests in their home country before coming to Guyana.
The recount of votes started last Wednesday and the CARICOM team along with other international and local observers have been observing the process.
The Foreign Minister in her letter said the Government is proud of its record of democratic governance in the recent past with two local government elections over the past five years, ending a more than 20 year drought.
The Carter Center was hoping to send one Observer for the process while the International Republican Institute was also hoping to send representatives.
While the IPI was not an accredited Observer for the elections, it had worked along with the Elections Commission on voter education issues and was also involved in funding one of the local observer groups for the elections.
Last Thursday, the Foreign Minister met and held discussions with the Diplomatic representatives from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union.
During that meeting, the foreign diplomats noted the importance of the recount, while the Foreign Minister noted that the Government was pleased that the recount was underway.