May 10, 2015 News
While the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has promised to announce the results of the May 11, General and Regional elections “in the fastest possible time,” the Secretariat predicts that results will definitely not be available within 48 hours after the polls would have closed.
GECOM was criticised in the past for the lengthy delay in processing the elections results. But GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, is saying that while “nobody is here in GECOM to concoct anything…We will not sacrifice expediency on the altar of accuracy.”
He made this declaration yesterday as he addressed media operatives, observers and stakeholders at the launching of the GECOM media center.
At this forum, Dr. Surujbally ruled out the possibility of declaring the presidency before all Statements of Poll (SOP) would have been properly processed.
The Chairman said, “The electorate and the political parties must have patience. Nobody is here in the Elections Commission to concoct anything. I know that is the sort of nonsensical rumour that might traverse this country.”
Dr. Surujbally explained that expected rainy weather could prevent planes landing or taking off from interior airstrips.
He added that even if the weather forecast is incorrect, domestic planes cannot take off after 18:00 hours which is just when the polls will be closing.
However, Dr. Surujbally said that the respective political parties will have a good idea of which direction the final results will be most likely to go based on reviews from polling agents.
Dr. Surujbally pleaded with the media to note that only GECOM is authorized to announce the final results.
GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield said, “We will strive to ensure that the final declaration is made in the fastest possible time.”
He added that GECOM will be providing results to the public on a two-hour basis as the Statements of Polls are received. Lowenfield said that this will be done because all the statements from all the districts will not arrive at the command center at the same time.
The CEO also specified that a minimum of two commissioners will sign off on each statement that will be sent to him.
The main reason for yesterday’s gathering was to officially launch the GECOM media center. This is a new feature to the elections process which has its genesis in the issues raised last elections with regards to the shortage of information.
With assistance from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), this system has been developed for the media to receive and announce preliminary results through the Chief Elections Officer.
UNDP Resident Representative Khadija Musa yesterday assured that the International organization would not be coming into contact with any of the results which she said must “be credible, must be correct and it must come from the authorities.”
She stressed that the UNDP will not be involved in sorting the data or touching any Statements of Poll.
Musa said that communication is paramount to satisfying people that things are happening. She added that “When there is a void in information, the public worry.”
The UNDP representative said that her organization is providing expert technical backing. She promised that Guyana will be satisfied with the information flow. “It will be very good, very different from other times in this country and we hope to contribute to the peaceful process,” said Musa.
GECOM legally has 15 days within which to declare results of votes cast at the 2,229 polling stations across the country including those in far-flung areas of the country from which ballot boxes and Statements of Poll have to be transported by river, road and air to Georgetown.
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