Message of His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, on the occasion of International Day of Democracy 2023

Democracy demands constant vigilance

Free and fair elections have been described as the lifeblood of democracy. It is through the exercise of their franchise that citizens give voice to their aspirations and direct the course of their country’s future.

Free and fair elections are the mechanisms through which the people exercise their sovereignty and are formidable. Today, as the world commemorates International Day of Democracy, Guyana reaffirms its unwavering commitment to safeguarding this precious right, born from the struggles and sacrifices of our people.

Our nation’s journey toward democracy has not been without adversity. From 1968 to 1992, Guyana endured a harrowing 24-year period of democratic interruption. The memories of that dark era serve as a stark reminder of the price we paid for liberty.  It was a time when the voice of the people was stifled, their rights violated, extreme hardships were levied upon them, and their dreams of a better future impaled. Had it not been for the stubborn resilience and fortitude of pro-democratic forces, Guyana would never have emerged from those perilous times.

Yet, hope never dimmed. Our country emerged from those dark times into the brightness of a new era in 1992. Democracy birthed better days and brighter times.

In recent memory, we faced another ominous challenge when sinister forces attempted to undermine the integrity of our free and fair elections in 2020. It was a moment that tested the very core of our democracy. But, through the vigilant efforts of our citizens, the international community and our institutions, we thwarted those who sought to steal the votes of our people. It was a triumph of democracy, and it underscored the importance of remaining eternally vigilant against those who would subvert the democratic will of the people.

Democracy requires continuous vigilance. The purveyors of authoritarianism and election manipulation are never far away. Their tactics evolve with time and become ingenious. We must be ever-watchful, guarding against any attempts to erode the foundations of our democracy.

The lessons of history teach us that democracy is fragile and can be easily undermined. It is our collective responsibility to protect and nurture it for ourselves and future generations.

Today, as we observe the International Day of Democracy, let us remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us to secure our democratic rights. Let us honour their memory by preserving and defending the democratic values we hold dear.

Happy International Day of Democracy!

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