WHILE some members of the opposition have accused the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of refusing to accept offers from organisations to observe the upcoming elections, Chair of the Commission, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, has stated that nothing is further from the truth.
On the Kaieteur Radio on Thursday, she stated that, in preparation for elections, the commission is working along with the international community for assistance while local observers will be accredited soon. “We’re expecting many overseas observers to come in and they will be accredited by the Executive, that’s not GECOM’s function. GECOM’s function is only to accredit the local observers and we’re just waiting after the President would have accredited the overseas [observers]…” she said.
One of these international observers is set to be the Carter Center through former United States (US) President, Jimmy Carter, who led the first mission to Guyana with the aim of encouraging sustainable development and development of democratic institutions.
Meanwhile, the commission will also receive two Senior Electoral Advisers from the Commonwealth Secretariat this month, while another individual from Canada is also on board. One of these was a Former Chair of the Guyana Electoral body, while another was the former Chief Elections Officer in India and another from Ghana.
“There was much ado where persons were saying that GECOM doesn’t want observers, that is not true. GECOM welcomes all elections observers,” Singh said later at a press conference in Friday. “These persons will be on board as from sometime this month…they will be here acting as advisers and overseeing what we’re doing in GECOM. They’ll be here before, during and after the elections.”
She assured the public that the commission is not “shutting the door on anybody” and is appreciative of all the help it can receive to ensure credible elections are held. Also addressing the topic, Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, stated that the accreditation for local observers is a process.
He explained that without knowing what the Official List of Electors [OLE] will look like and how many polling stations will be used, it would be impossible for the commission to move ahead with local accreditation. “Once these processes are satisfied, no doubt there’s a timeline for all the groups who have indicated their desire to participate as local observers, there’s a point in time when the Commission will deliberate and provide the approvals,” he said.
Amongst the groups which have shown interest are the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU); the Private Sector Commission (PSC); the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Guyana (AmCham Guyana).
These processes being outlined, the Chair affirmed: “With these persons on board persons should have no doubt, with them or without them, that GECOM would not produce credible elections. Everything is being done to by GECOM to produce free, fair and credible elections. No one should have any doubt about that.”