– GECOM head tells political parties
Even if they would sometimes feel compelled to “let off steam,” the Chairman of the country’s elections body wants political leaders to keep their mouths in check as he looks towards delivering another peaceful and credible elections process.
Dr Steve Surujbally, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), yesterday warned political leaders against “spouting nonsense” which could undermine the credibility of GECOM and raise tensions in the society.
Dr Surujbally, who presided over the 2006 general elections, which were hailed as one of the most peaceful in Guyana’s history, called for political parties not to resurrect or incite any “cleavages” which could taint the conduct of the elections and produce an atmosphere of doubt and intimidation.
He was speaking at a workshop to educate representatives of political parties about Nomination Day – the day on which political parties give an official indication of intention to contest the elections. Nomination Day usually precedes polling day by 30 days. Dr Surujbally has said that the Commission would be ready to stage the elections by mid-October.
According to Dr Surujbally, the workshop, which was held at Hotel Tower in Georgetown, represents a significant milestone along the path to Election Day.
“As we traverse this path, let us all resolve to work in a comprehensive partnership towards having elections that would once again result in local and international acclaim
“Let us prove to the world, once again, that we are a mature nation that can manage our affairs in a manner that is exemplary,” Surujbally stated.
He announced that GECOM would be putting forward a Code of Conduct to be signed by the political parties; something which the GECOM Chairman said is a crucial element that is integrally linked to the upcoming elections being conducted in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.
“Essentially, this would be an indication of their agreement to play by the rules and to demonstrate a public commitment to free and fair elections,” Surujbally said.
He sought to assure that GECOM has an open-door policy and treats all bona fide political parties equally. This, Dr Surujbally asserted, provides the parties with the opportunity to make comments and suggestions, and to air complaints and concern.
He said that while political parties reserve the right to make public pronouncements pertaining to any aspect of GECOM’s preparations for and the conduct of the upcoming elections, the Commission expects, and the parties should aspire to ensure that this is done dispassionately and not in a manner that would be indicative of “any intention to besmirch our reputation and undermine the integrity of GECOM and its Secretariat.”
Dr Surujbally assured political parties that the Commission and its Secretariat will continue, without bias, to be available to any genuine political party which may need further guidance associated with contesting the elections.
He said that the Commission recognizes that the parties are involved in every step of the electoral process, and it is important for GECOM to maintain close relations and to communicate interactively in a consultative approach throughout the electoral process.
“We recognize the need to provide guidance to Political Parties as key Stakeholders about how they ought to apply themselves throughout the electoral process insofar as contesting the elections is concerned,” Dr Surujbally stressed.
During this election period, he said the Commission is conscious that regular consultation with political parties is critical to the promotion of agreement on GECOM’s timetables, processes, and outputs, as well as ensuring that they remain fully informed of all aspects of the electoral process.
It is in this regard that yesterday’s workshop was organized to highlight the features of the electoral system and to familiarize political parties with the requisite forms to be submitted on Nomination Day and the knowledge and skills to complete the said Forms.
“While we understand that we have to play a vital role in ensuring the integrity of the election process, it cannot be overemphasized that Political Parties have a similar role to play in ensuring fairness of the process and promoting confidence in the system by playing by the rules and, in particular, the acceptance of results,” Dr Surujbally stated.
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