Henry Jeffrey responds to article on IRI

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Dear Editor,

I wish to make two comments on ‘We’re not here to lead Electoral Reform; We’re here to provide technical assistance’ – IRI’ (VV: 13/3/2022) in which it was stated, “In one of his May 2021 columns – Future Notes – former Government Minister, Dr. Henry Jeffrey said in a liberal democracy, if for no other reason than that elections are the process that brings governments to office or causes them to lose it, electoral reforms [therefore] cannot legitimately be the business of the government alone. But the PPP/C government has unilaterally collaborated with the United States Embassy and proceeded to employ the International Republican Institute (IRI), to lead the reform process,’ Dr. Jeffrey had said”.

Firstly, the writer appears to have missed my essential point, which was not whether the IRI was coming to lead the elections reform process or not but that any consultancy, particularly by foreigners, that could possibly impact the electoral reform process ‘cannot legitimately be the business of the government alone’.

Secondly, since the issue has arisen, the terms ‘lead’, ‘spearhead,’ ‘drive’, etc. have all been used in relation to location of the IRI in the reform process. I believe in this case one needs to differentiate between political and operational leadership. The IRI cannot politically lead the electoral reform project: that is a matter for the Guyanese political process that has ‘partnered’ with it and that may accept, reject, ignore, etc its advice. However, from the project intent, resources and reach, and from the explanations of its activities given in the above article, it is clear to me that IRI is the operational leader of the reform process.


Henry Jeffrey

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