Results should come faster
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – The head of the Commonwealth Observer Group that monitored the Guyana elections on Monday says she believes that there should be a “smaller interval” between the close of the polls and the results.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Tuesday released the first set of preliminary results or Monday’s general election for 112 of the 2 229 polling stations.
While GECOM has urged both major political parties – the ruling People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) and the opposition coalition alliance comprising A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) not to disclose unofficial results both parties are claiming victory based on their own counts.
Kate Wilkinson, the former New Zealand government minister, who headed the Commonwealth Observer team, told a news conference Wednesday that she also understood that GECOM had to operate within the confines of the law.
“I think it would be preferable to have a smaller interval between the close of poll and the declaration of the result, but I understand the legal framework is not entirely conducive to that.
“At the end of the day GECOM operating within the law, what the rules are, what the rule should be and there are certain constraints in the legal framework and that may well be one of the recommendations that we have, that the electoral laws could be changed so that they don’t need to have hard copies of everything to go into Georgetown.”
Wilkinson said the group had noted that the “legal framework “sufficiently provides for the conduct of credible elections” and that key stakeholders appear to have confidence in GECOM’s ability to manage the administrative aspects of the electoral process.
“From our observation, polling officials appeared to be adequately trained to undertake their duties on elections day and were sufficiently familiar with their responsibilities”.
But she said concerns were raised about the margin of increase in the Voters’ Register since the last national and regional elections in 2011.
“We noted the official response by GECOM. This issue did not result in any political party or alliance abstaining from participating in the election,” she told reporters.
The Commonwealth team said in its interim report that on the day of voting “portraits of the President, Prime Minister and the Minister of Education were in full and prominent view of a significant number of primary and nursery schools that served as polling stations”.
But she told reporters “in most instances polling staff were not aware of instructions from GECOM to cover or remove them”.
Wilkinson said generally the team was pleased with the conduct of the poll and was now urging political parties, citizens and other stakeholders “to continue to display the admirable restraint and patience they have so far exercised as they wait for the official results from GECOM”.
She said the final report would contain several recommendations that will improve Guyana’s electoral process.
“The Commonwealth, if requested, will provide the technical expertise required to implement these recommendations. We urge Guyana’s authorities to seriously consider them and to commit to their implementation”.
Meanwhile, the Carter Centre, which also sent a delegation to monitor the elections, said the election is probably the most important since the watershed elections of 1992 and called on citizens and party leaders to act responsibly and exercise patience during the voting tabulation process by GECOM.
The Center said that Guyana and its citizens have not been able to develop to their full potential as a result ethnic and racial mobilisation by main political parties and called on political leaders to make efforts to unify the country and strengthen accountability.
But the head of Mission, Audrey Glover, said all Guyanese should be proud of what transpired on Monday.
“This is especially true because their efforts took place in an atmosphere of tension and anxiety that unfortunately was generated by key political leaders who played on fears during the electoral process.”