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What the State Department says about peaceful transfers of power

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a media briefing Tuesday at the State Department in Washington. (Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/Reuters)
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It is common for representatives of the State Department to offer public comments praising the peaceful transition of power following democratic elections around the world. Below, a brief compilation of responses to elections since early in the administration of President Trump.

Ethiopia, March 8, 2018. Then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson:

“We recognize the transition that is underway in Ethiopia, the first-ever voluntary transfer of power. And I view this as a very positive symbol of the strength of this very young democracy in Ethiopia, a peaceful transition of power.”

Congo, Jan. 23, 2019. A State Department spokesperson:

“The United States salutes the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for their insistence on a peaceful and democratic ‎transfer of power. We also recognize outgoing President Joseph Kabila’s commitment to becoming the first President in DRC history to cede power peacefully through an electoral process.”

Turkey, May 8, 2019. A State Department spokesperson:

“Free and fair elections and acceptance of legitimate election results are essential for any democracy.”

Moldova, June 14, 2019. A State Department spokesperson:

“We are encouraged that both the new coalition and the former government have committed to a peaceful transfer of power reflecting the will of the people of Moldova. We call for restraint during this time of transition.”

Afghanistan, July 8, 2019. A State Department fact sheet:

“The United States remains committed to political stability and the democratic transfer of power in Afghanistan.”

Burundi, June 5, 2020. A State Department spokesperson:

“The United States salutes the people of Burundi for their resolve for a peaceful ‎transfer of power. We also recognize outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza’s commitment to a peaceful transition.”

Guyana, Sept. 18, 2020. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo:

“I was proud to publicly support the Guyanese people in their quest to have the results of the election respected. The results certainly took longer than any of us would have wished or hoped, but it was worth fighting for. It was worth fighting to honor the people’s sovereign decision.”

Africa, Oct. 8, 2020. Pompeo:

“The United States is committed to supporting free, fair, inclusive elections. The conduct of elections is important not only for Africans, but also for defenders of democracy around the world. We believe all sides should participate peacefully in the democratic process.”

Bolivia, Oct. 15, 2020. A State Department official:

“We’ve met with Bolivia’s leading presidential candidates and their parties and other political and civil society and business players, have urged all of them to counsel their supporters to let the election authorities and observers do their jobs, to maintain peace and tranquility, and to let the electoral process play out and accept the results once they are fully confirmed.”

Seychelles, Oct. 25, 2020. A State Department spokesperson:

“The United States congratulates the Government of the Republic of Seychelles and the Seychellois people on a successful election and looks forward to a peaceful transfer of power. The commitment of the Seychellois people to the democratic process has ushered in a new chapter in their country’s history.”

The United States, Nov. 10, 2020. Pompeo:

Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked at a Nov. 10, 2020, news conference if the State Department would engage with the Biden transition team. (Video: Reuters)

“There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.”

Pompeo went on to say that the State Department would be “functional today, successful today, and successful with the president who’s in office on January 20th.”

He was asked whether he believes there was “widespread voter fraud” that would result in President-elect Joe Biden’s victory being overturned and whether “the United States failed to conduct a fraudulent-free election.”

“I’m getting calls from all across the world,” Pompeo said. “These people are watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time.”

“We’re in good shape,” he concluded.

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