The General Assembly of the United Nations has designated September 15 each year as International Day of Democracy. In proclaiming this ‘Day’, the United Nations affirmed democracy as a universal value, one which is based on the freely expressed will of the people.

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is today pleased to join with the international community in observing International Day of Democracy. On behalf of the Government and people of this great country of ours, I affirm Guyana’s steadfast commitment to democracy. We pledge on this International Day of Democracy 2021 to strengthen the ramparts which protect our fragile democracy: the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, freedom of expression and constitutional rule.

Democracy is predicated on respect for freedom and human rights and respect for the will of the people through free and fair elections held at periodic intervals. As the Caribbean Court of Justice has observed, “elections that are free, fair, transparent and accountable are the lifeblood of a true democracy.”

The people of Guyana once experienced the agonies and anguish of rigged elections and its consequential effects: authoritarian rule, the abuse of human rights and the upending of economic development. Many were forced to scamper from our beloved Motherland in order to escape persecution.

A threat to free and fair elections represents an assault on democracy. Guyanese have a duty to zealously guard the country’s democracy. For almost 2½ decades in the past, our people were deprived of the right to elect a government of their choice, and one year ago, there was an attempt to subvert the will of the electorate. That plot was repelled because of the heroism of our people, who stood defiant against the plot to rig our elections. Democracy prevailed, and our nation was rescued from the tentacles of dictatorship.

I take this opportunity to once again applaud all those, both at home and abroad, who stood by Guyana during those very difficult days. That experience has strengthened our resolve to ensure that our democracy is never again imperilled.

Let us, therefore all commit, on this International Day of Democracy to ensure that the democratic will of our people is never again threatened.

May we all lend our efforts towards fortifying our country’s democracy!

Democracy requires all to be involved; religious leaders, civil society and every citizen who value highly freedom and the ability to choose. All of us must ensure that democracy is safeguarded every day of our lives.

Thank you very much.