A group of prominent former world leaders on Thursday expressed “deep concern” over President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede defeat to President-elect Joe Biden in the U.S. presidential election, warning that his failure to do so is “putting at risk the functioning of American democracy.”
The Elders—a group that includes numerous former heads of state and government, as well as cabinet ministers, diplomats, activists, two former United Nations secretaries-general, and seven Nobel Peace Prize recipients—issued a statement decrying the “continued assertions of electoral fraud” by Trump, leading members of his administration, and the Republican Party.
“Continued baseless accusations of subversion risk further deepening the instability and polarization in American society, and eroding public faith in institutions that is the bedrock of democratic life.”
Such allegations lack “any compelling evidence” and “convey a lack of respect for the integrity and independence of the democratic and legal institutions of the United States,” the group said.
Warning of “far-reaching consequences beyond the United States’ borders,” The Elders said “those who stand to benefit from the current impasse are autocratic rulers and malign actors who wish to undermine democracy and the rule of law across the world.”
“Notwithstanding any continuing legal challenges, President Trump should follow the example set by his predecessors and declare himself willing to accept the verdict cast by the American people at the ballot box,” the group added. “The executive powers available to the president until his successor assumes office… should be used judiciously in the interests of the whole United States, rather than for partisan gain.”
“Continued baseless accusations of subversion risk further deepening the instability and polarization in American society, and eroding public faith in institutions that is the bedrock of democratic life,” it warned.
Mary Robinson, chair of The Elders and a former Irish president, added: “It is shocking to have to raise concerns about U.S. democratic processes as The Elders have previously commented on volatile and undemocratic situations in states such as Kenya, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe.”
“President Trump’s refusal thus far to facilitate a smooth transition weakens democratic values,” stressed Robinson. “His fellow Republicans must now affirm their faith in the U.S. Constitution, democratic institutions, and the rule of law, so the country can begin a process of reconciliation.”
This is the second time The Elders have weighed in on the U.S. presidential election this week. On Monday, the group released a statement congratulating Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory and expressing hope that “the incoming administration, as well as seeking to unite a divided country, will seize the opportunity to renew America’s commitment to the multilateral system at a time when U.S. leadership is urgently needed.”
“This includes taking a leading role in efforts to keep global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius by recommitting the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement, supporting global collaboration on tackling Covid-19 by reversing plans to withdraw funding for the World Health Organization, and prioritizing the strengthening of nuclear arms controls,” the statement said.
Created in 2007 by anti-apartheid activist, Nobel Peace Laureate and former South African President Nelson Mandela, The Elders works to promote “a world where people live in peace, conscious of their common humanity and their shared responsibilities for each other, for the planet, and for future generations.”
Current members include former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, and former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Among the group’s former members are four Nobel Peace Prize recipients: former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, South African archbishop and anti-apartheid activist Desmond Tutu, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari.