‘We are ready’ – Dr Surujbally
The head of the country’s elections body says that the Guyana Elections Commission is ready to conduct Monday’s general elections that will decide if the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) continues its grip on power at the executive and parliamentary levels.
‘We are ready,” Dr Steve Surujbally, chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said yesterday. He was at the time addressing local and foreign observer missions at Hotel Tower, Georgetown.
An estimated 475,000 Guyanese are registered to vote in an election that will choose a new government and new 65-seat legislature.
Voting will be conducted at more than 2,000 polling stations, with a final number of these to be known by noon today.
“We are ready to carry out that mandate that was given to us,” Surujbally emphasized.
Political parties have reserved this evening to make their final pitch to voters. The PPP has planned a “unity concert” for the Guyana National Stadium; the opposition alliance APNU has planned its “green revolution” for the Square of the Revolution; and the Alliance for Change (AFC) takes its “change” platform to Independence Park, formerly Parade Ground.
Foreign observers for these elections are the Organisation of American States, the Caribbean Community, the Commonwealth, and the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
Dr Surujbally told the observers that GECOM is managing the elections with an “almost perfect” list, compared to previous elections when the Final Voters’ List was a major cause for concern.
He remained adamant that the Commission did not start its voter education exercise late, and assured that any changes, such as those related to shift in polling places, would be clearly known to voters through various means.
Indicating the Commission’s satisfaction with the way the preparations are going, Dr Surujbally pointed to the fact that “we’ve had no blood on the streets, we have had no mayhem” in a reflection of what transpired in elections of the past.
Dr Surujbally is conducting his second elections. His first, those of 2006, was the country’s first non-violent elections since gaining independence in 1966.
He credited the atmosphere to the adherence of the media and political parties to codes of conduct they have signed.
He said that the political parties have not broken the code they signed in any ‘meaningful’ way that would result in violence or turbulent in the days ahead.
Dr Surujbally also emphasized to observers that the new National ID cards are not a prerequisite to voting. He said that if persons turn up without their new ID card, once their names are on the list, and they can satisfy an identity test based on information they would have submitted at the time of registration, they would be allowed to vote.