Executive Summary

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is a multiparty democracy. National and regional elections took place in March, and the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won both the presidency and a majority of representational seats. International and local observers considered the elections free and fair. The incumbent government, however, contested the results of the national elections, leading to numerous rounds of litigation over a three-month period that included a month-long recount, which the incumbent government accepted.

The police commissioner heads the Guyana Police Force, which reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs and is responsible for maintaining internal security. The Guyana Defense Force is responsible for external security but also has some domestic security responsibilities. The defense force, headed by a chief of staff, falls under the purview of the Defense Board, which the president of the country chairs. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police and the military. Members of the security forces committed few abuses.

Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; harsh prison conditions; and laws that criminalize consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adult men.

Government officials did not enjoy impunity for human rights abuses. There were independent and transparent procedures for handling allegations of abuses by security forces.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage. Elections also take place within indigenous communities, where members elect indigenous leaders every 33 to 36 months.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: National and regional elections were held on March 2. A no confidence vote in December 2018 against the ruling A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition government triggered snap national elections for March 2019. Several rounds of litigation initiated by the coalition government and opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) delayed the elections until March 2, 2020. The APNU+AFC coalition’s refusal to accept the elections result that showed their loss created a five-month postelections impasse, which included a national recount, refusal to accept the results of the recount, and litigation in the Caribbean Court of Justice, the country’s court of final instance. The PPP/C won by a margin of 15,000 votes against the APNU+AFC coalition, and Mohamed Irfaan Ali of the PPP/C was installed as president on August 2. The general elections resulted in the return of the PPP/C to government after a five-year hiatus from a previous 23-year administration. International observers concluded the March 2 national and regional elections were free and fair. Local government elections were held in 2018 in all eligible communities throughout the country and were considered free, fair, and credible by international observers.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate. The law requires that one-third of each list of candidates be women.

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The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future