Apr 30, 2015 News
With Elections Day just around the corner, Cabinet Secretary, Dr Roger Luncheon has raised concerns over the preparedness of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in the lead up to the May 11 activity.
During his weekly post-Cabinet press briefing at the Office of the President yesterday, Dr. Luncheon outlined the areas of concern Cabinet raised which compromises its confidence in the Commission.
The basis for many of those concerns had to do with the dissemination of certain information by GECOM to the public. Of the concerns raised by Cabinet, according to Dr Luncheon, was the voting by members of the disciplinary forces, set to take place on May 2. “Specifically the details of the preparations and the approaches by GECOM have yet to be publicly aired…” said Dr Luncheon.
He said that Cabinet’s attention was drawn to the “public vetting of GECOM staff” for Elections Day as there have been calls from stakeholders to publicly disclose who will be operating at the more than 2200 polling stations. Dr Luncheon also related that Cabinet has concerns over the public disclosure of those who have gained the right to operate as proxy voters.
Moreover, according to Luncheon another matter that continues to be of concern is the facilitation of polling places in certain districts, the identification of private residences as polling stations and the suitability of those residences.
“We heard about rum-shops being identified as polling places,” said the Cabinet Secretary, “(those are) not exactly comparable to what was initially proposed; to use public facilities as the primary place of poll, and only in unavoidable circumstances to resort to private residences.”
When asked why these are still issues for political parties, when GECOM has already addressed these concerns, the Cabinet Secretary responded that he is “merely repeating what has been reported in our Cabinet meeting”. He said that the engagement between political parties and the Commission has been “minimal” but conceded that GECOM has made visible efforts to address the issue of private resident polling places.
“The concerns at Cabinet address those same issues. We are not satisfied if there are indeed no reinsurances, they are not likely to have gotten the full confidence of cabinet,” said Dr Luncheon.
Dr Luncheon said that “Confidence building needs to be more thoroughly and aggressively embraced by GECOM”. The Presidential Secretariat said that this should be of particular interest for the Commission since International and Local observer missions will have to “write and document” whether the May 11 elections subscribe to the standards of international recognition.
While on the topic of election observer missions, Dr Luncheon also took the opportunity to provide an update on the status of the invitations sent to international observers. He confirmed that the overseas organisations sending observers for this election will include the “three C’s”; Caribbean Community (Caricom) and Commonwealth, Carter Centre, along with observers from the United Nations and the Organisation of American States. New to the scene will be the Union of South American States.
Dr Luncheon added that bilateral engagements between the Government of Guyana and Suriname have seen a “favourable response” from the country’s President Desi Bouterse.
However, the Cabinet Secretary contended that the Administration has not fully achieved its two objectives with relation to the operation of the international observer missions. These are with regard to getting them early enough to observe the conduct of the campaign and to confirm how many would remain in the country after polling day. “Those objectives, I must admit, have not been met,” said Dr Luncheon, “Some of the observer missions are here already, in the context of the campaign activities, and others have clearly identified their intention to remain after May 11.”
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