By Lisa Hamilton
A TEAM of over 50 European Union (EU) Elections Observers will soon form a Mission observing Guyana’s 2020 General and Regional Elections with an eye out for potential fraud, intimidation, violence or anything which affects a transparent and credible electoral process.
The Observation Mission was officially launched on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel where members of the public were addressed by Estonian Politician and Chief Observer, Urmas Paet.
This marks the first time that the EU has deployed a fully-fledge operation mission to Guyana with a team of 14 long-term observers already deployed to various regions of the country. “The presence of the European Union Election Observation Mission demonstrates the European Union’s commitment to the conduct of inclusive, transparent and credible elections in Guyana,” Paet stated.
“We focus our observation not only on Election Day but on the entire election process including the campaign, the results tabulation and the resolution of any election-related dispute after voting has finished.”
A total of nine elections experts from the mission arrived in Guyana on January 25, 2020 and soon 20 short-term observers and other locally-recruited short-term observers will reinforce the team.
The locally recruited observers will come from EU Members States and diplomatic missions accredited to Guyana and together they will observe the voting process, counting and the tabulation of results.
“The mission is independent in its findings and conclusions and EU observers adhere to a strict Code of Conduct of International Observers which requires them to maintain neutrality and impartiality in the course of their work and do not interfere in the electoral process,” Paet explained.
“We do hope that our presence will have a positive effect on reinforcing confidence in the process and that it will help to deter any potential fraud, intimidation and violence.”
The mission will also assess the extent to which the elections are in compliance with the Laws of Guyana and international and Regional commitments for democratic elections to which Guyana is a signature.
Some of these include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the United Nations Convention against Corruption and the Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities amongst others.
Leading up to Elections Day, the mission will also assess the legal framework, the voter and candidate registration, the campaigning environment, elections preparations, the role of civil societies and the role of the media.
The neutrality and independence of the judiciary and the election administration as well as transparency of operations such as the tabulation and publication of results will also be examined.
On March 4, 2020, the EU Mission will issue a preliminary statement detailing its initial assessment of the electoral process. A more comprehensive report will be issued three months post-elections which will include recommendations for future elections.
The Chief Observer stated: “The European Union attaches great significance to these elections. We stand ready to deliver an impartial, objective assessment of the electoral process and call on all stakeholders to respect the rules and refrain from inflammatory language and violence…as impartial elections observers, we don’t care who wins; we care about how they win.”
That same day, the Observer Mission was also scheduled to meet with Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings; Chair of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh; and representatives of The Citizenship Initiative (TCI) and the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP).
Paet stated that the Observer Mission has thus far received a warm welcome from elections stakeholders; thanked President David Granger for the invitation to observe the elections and thanked the EU Member states and Norway for their support of the mission.