Feb 06, 2015 News
– agrees to finance 100 laptops for GECOM
Canada has repeated calls for Guyana to seriously consider recommendations which will guarantee political parties more equitable access to media and financing.
High Commissioner, Dr. Nicole Giles, yesterday, also pushed for adherence to timely and standardized procedures for the electoral process and the improvement of communications between stakeholders, in particular with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The diplomat made the call shortly before signing an agreement which will see the Canadian Government paying for 100 laptops for GECOM’s use for elections.
Giles, during the ceremony at GECOM’s Kingston headquarters on High Street, noted that Guyana has made significant strides in elections management as noted in the 2011 elections reports.
Recommendations were made by the Organization of American States (OAS) Electoral Mission and the Commonwealth Secretariat final report, which noted areas of improvement to make subsequent elections more efficient and fair.
“We hope that the provision of laptops to GECOM will help with implementation of these recommendations.”
The High Commissioner echoed earlier statements of Canada, the US, UK and the European Union that free, fair and peaceful elections play a critical role in every democracy.
“It is through elections that citizens choose their government and have their voices heard. There is strong correlation between free, fair and peaceful elections and the progressive development of a country. The work undertaken by independent election commissions is crucial.”
She said that Canada has a high level of confidence in GECOM’s ability to deliver credible elections. The money for the laptops will be coming from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI).
The envoy said her country is promoting freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law by strengthening the professionalism and accountability of public institutions – including elections management bodies. This project, she emphasised, will also help GECOM to be even more transparent and responsive to the needs of the electorate.
“There is an equally important role that the citizens of Guyana play in this electoral process. Voting is a right, a duty and an opportunity, for all Guyanese. The right to vote is the most significant representation of a citizen’s participation in the governance of their country. Canada is hopeful that the upcoming electoral process will allow the Guyanese people to debate the important issues that are facing the country.”
Also addressing invitees, Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield insisted that elections have come a far way in Guyana.
He said that while the laptops will be utilized at polling places on election day by staffers, they do not represent a paradigm shift in GECOM’s operation. He duly recognised that the donation was timely and would definitely help in improving capability and efficiency.
GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally also noted the timeliness of the donation. “With the bell rung and Guyana in the homestretch of elections, the Canadian initiative can be seen as one that speaks of trust…trust in GECOM’s capacity to effectively manage elections.”
Dr. Surujbally however bemoaned the fact that criticisms have been raised of GECOM’s methods.
Admitting that GECOM still has a far way to go, he said that it makes it harder if there is distrust at home. GECOM remains very much available to answer questions, he stressed.
He also said that GECOM has the capacity and has reached the stage where it can apply for certification to manage elections of international standards. He believes that the days of turbulence are over, with the upcoming elections being a watershed occasion for Guyana. The GECOM Chairman also asked Guyana to “trust” and “walk” with the body, as it has no agenda except the truth.
Everything that comes out of Jagdeo’s mouth is aimed at confusing this nation.
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