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Set like a gem in the crown of South America, nestled on the North-Eastern shoulder, defying the raging Atlantic Ocean, Guyana's many waterways reflect the source of it's name "The Land of Many Waters"
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Friday, June 16, 2006


-- outgoing British High Commissioner


BRITISH High Commissioner Mr. Stephen Hiscock believes the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is capable of and can deliver elections in Guyana, as commissions have successfully done in the past.

“I firmly believe that GECOM can deliver these elections. They have the capability and have the support of a number of international advisers with wide experience of elections in other countries,” Hiscock stressed.

“GECOM have done this before, and despite the logistical nightmare of holding elections in some of the most inaccessible and far-flung corners of the country, they have run them (elections) successfully,” the outgoing British envoy noted Wednesday night.

He yesterday repeated that he is satisfied that GECOM preparations for the upcoming general elections are on course.

During a farewell call on Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr. Ralph Ramkarran, the diplomat also expressed optimism that the voting will go ahead as planned.

Hiscock told the Guyana Chronicle that information received from the Joint International Technical Assessors (JITA) indicates that GECOM is moving ahead according to its schedule.

Addressing a gala reception in Georgetown on Wednesday night to celebrate the official birthday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, he hoped for an elections campaign where issues of real importance can be discussed.

“I hope that the country can get down to an election campaign where issues of real importance can be discussed, leading to an election day which, in the presence of international and local independent observers, will be regarded as free and fair by all,” he said.

Hiscock also assured that the British government remains fully committed to assisting GECOM in order to help keep the election process firmly on track and to ensure that it is credible to the electorate.

According to him, it is the “credibility of the electoral process that is key” to the successful holding of free, fair and transparent elections.

The British High Commissioner, who retires from the diplomatic service this year after having completed more than 40 years of service and whose tenure as High Commissioner to Guyana ended yesterday, said he is disappointed that he will not be here for the elections.

“The elections will soon be upon us (and) I am disappointed that I will not be here for them but the date of my birthday and retirement meant that that was not to be. Wherever I am, however, I will be following events very closely,” he told President Bharrat Jagdeo and others at the Queen’s birthday party.

He noted that 2006 is indeed a special year for Her Majesty, who turned 80 on April 21 and has now reigned for more than half a century. She is the second longest serving head of state in the world today and is one of the most travelled heads of state in history.

Hiscock also indicated that 2006 is somewhat of a special year for him as he retires from the diplomatic service. He recalled having joined the Foreign Office in 1965 at the time when the Constitutional Conference was being held in London to lay the groundwork for the independence of Guyana.

Since then he has served in Malaysia, Zambia, Pakistan, Korea, and Australia. 𠇋ut it is Guyana that has a special place in my heart,” the British High Commissioner said

“Most of you will know that this is the second time that Dee (wife) and I have served here. We have grown to love the people of this country and very much like Her Majesty and Prince Philip, we have been touched by the kindness and warmth of welcome of the Guyanese people.”

“It is our greatest wish that this country and its people should have the peace and prosperity they so richly deserve,” he told the gathering.

Hiscock said the nine years that he served here have been “full of wonderful and unforgettable memories”. 𠇏rom the very first time that I stood spell-bound watching the Potaro River descend from the Pakaraima mountains in a single fall of over 700 feet at Kaieteur Falls, to the breathtaking beauty as the forest gives way to savannah in the Rupununi. From the expectation and excitement at the swearing in of Dr. Cheddi Jagan in 1992 to the misery and discomfort brought to so many people by the flooding in 2005. All these moments will live in my memory alongside those from the 40 years I have been in the Diplomatic Service.”

Noting that Guyana too is celebrating 40 years since it achieved independence from the United Kingdom, Hiscock told the gathering many have coined the phrase “life begins at 40”, but there is a thoughtful quote from Benjamin Franklin which says that “At 20 years of age the will reigns; at 30 the wit; at 40 the judgement”.

“I call on all Guyanese to use that judgement based on forty years of experience in the weeks and months to come – not to judge on the basis of race, but on the basis of what an individual can do for the benefit of the people of Guyana as a whole, and on the basis of policies that can really make a difference to the future development of this wonderful country,” he said.

The British envoy, however, indicated that he is leaving Guyana with a sense of a job not quite finished.

“As I said earlier I would have preferred to remain here at least until the elections had been held and maybe longer to see, amongst other things, the implementation of the constitutional reforms which will be so necessary to build on the democratic foundations which have been established in this country.”

“But leave I must and I commend this beautiful country of Guyana and its people to my successor Fraser Wheeler who I know will enjoy his time here enormously,” he added.

Guyana Chronicle
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