SAGE Pres Release
May 15, 2021
The Society for African Guyanese Empowerment (SAGE) registers its opposition to the imposition of the International Republican Institute (IRI) on our country by the Guyana government. We view this as an attack on the right of a sovereign country to determine its destiny without interference from external forces. This is yet another example of the government’s preparedness to sacrifice national wholeness for narrow consolidation of power. As an independent country we cannot stand back allow external forces to dictate for us what kind of electoral system is best for Guyana.
As an African Guyanese-based organization SAGE finds it difficult to endorse a scheme which is arrived at without prior consultation with the African Guyanese elected leadership. Guyana is a plural society that must be driven by consensus. It is our view that at a minimum the government should have consulted with the political opposition. However, SAGE is not prepared to accept any electoral reform project that is controlled by the IRI. This is an outfit with a dubious record in other countries around the world such as Haiti and Venezuela. Furthermore, the IRI’s role in Guyana’s recent election can hardly be described as non-partisan. Such a compromised outfit cannot deliver a neutral product.
Ultimately it is the people of Guyana and their representatives who must heal our historical and self-inflicted wounds. No external force can give a lasting peace to Guyanese. While SAGE fully supports electoral reform and other constitutional reforms, it is not prepared to sanction the outsourcing of this pivotal area of national reconciliation. We are also opposed to any reform of the electoral machinery being overseen or dictated by one side of the political dive. A transparent and credible electoral machinery acceptable by all can only arise out of a process based on consensus.
Finally, as was the case with the constitutional reform process of two decades ago, this one must include the widest possible consultation. SAGE stands ready to participate in such consultations. Ultimately all our ethnic groups must feel a sense of ownership of the anticipated reforms. The IRI cannot be part of the process that throws up that outcome.