Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, yesterday completed a successful two day official visit to Guyana. “The aim of my visit was to discuss the priorities of Guyana’s leaders and to reiterate the Commonwealth’s enduring commitment to developing Guyana practically at the grassroots through capacity-building programmes. I also briefed the leadership on our advocacy and the range of pioneering global initiatives,” said Mr Sharma.
During his visit the Secretary-General met with HE President David Granger. The meeting focused on a number of issues, including the importance of diversifying Guyana’s economic interests, strengthening the culture of democracy, electoral reform, and the implementation of Commonwealth Observer Group recommendations.
The Secretary-General and the President also discussed the country’s priorities and concerns ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting from 25 to 27 November in Malta.
Mr Sharma also called on Prime Minister Hon Moses Nagamootoo, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon Carl Greenidge, Minister of Governance, Natural Resources and the Environment Hon Raphael Trotman, Speaker of the National Assembly Hon Dr Barton Scotland, members of the opposition, and the Chairman of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr Steve Surujbally.
The Secretary-General was briefed by two of the Secretariat’s Guyana-based Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) experts in the fields of trade negotiations and law revision.
The Secretary-General also met with Commonwealth High Commissioners based in Georgetown.
The evolving political situation was discussed and the hope shared that it will move in a positive direction.
Mr Sharma said: “I would like to express my gratitude to HE the President, the Prime Minister and other Ministers, representatives of the opposition and GECOM for their warm reception and for taking the time to discuss the issues that are critical to Guyana, where the Commonwealth is very willing to provide further partnership.”
“Guyana is a valued member of the Commonwealth and is currently serving as a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), the representative group of nine Commonwealth Foreign Ministers that seeks to protect and promote the political values of our association. Guyana’s Foreign Minister is the representative voice of the Caribbean in CMAG.”
The Secretary-General revealed that stakeholders have made specific requests for assistance in a range of areas. This includes help with electoral reform and the conduct of local government elections, public sector reform, good governance and anti-corruption measures, effective use of the country’s natural resources, and strengthening the judiciary.
He said: “The Commonwealth is ready and willing to provide support in these areas and to continue our ongoing work, which includes the development of a viable upstream oil and gas policy and providing our world-class debt management system.
“Guyana will also benefit from the recently launched Association of Integrity Commissions and Anti-Corruption Bodies in the Commonwealth Caribbean, which will enhance transparency and help fight corruption in the region.”
During the visit the Secretary-General distributed copies of the finalised report of the Commonwealth Observer Group on the 2015 elections.
He said: “I am encouraged by the appetite for positive change and the willingness to consider implementation of the recent Commonwealth Observer Group recommendations.”
On arriving in Guyana, the Secretary-General issued a statement affirming Commonwealth solidarity with Guyana and support for its territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Mr Sharma, who is in Barbados to attend the CARICOM Heads of Government Conference, described the visit as “a great success”.
He said: “What is clear, is that Guyana is not only a country with bountiful natural resources. It is also defined by its strong human capital. Guyana is on the cusp of great advancement, and the Commonwealth stands ready and willing to support this country in advancing the culture of democracy and creating an era of prosperity for its citizens.”