May 14, 2015 News
… Cites vote buying and misuse of state resources
By Jarryl Bryan
The Commonwealth Observer group yesterday released its findings, citing inflammatory rhetoric and misuse of the state media among issues to go into its report, while issuing calls for patience and restraint as the
nation awaits the declaration of Monday’s elections results.
Consisting of nine officials, the commonwealth panel, headed by Kate Wilkinson, a former New Zealand Government minister and parliamentarian met with the media at Cara lodge yesterday at 09:30hrs.
While commending Guyana’s legal framework that allows for a credible election and the large numbers of all- female polling staff, the group highlighted several discrepancies it observed during its mission.
Some of these anomalies included allegations of direct vote buying and the misuse of state resources in an effort to induce votes.
Wilkinson noted the domination of state media by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP/C), stating that fair access was not granted to all contesting parties.
The group highlighted instances of biased reporting during the elections campaign, expressing its concern especially after the media houses would have signed unto a code of conduct compelling them to provide fair, accurate and balanced coverage.
Wilkinson also expressed the group’s disappointment in the inflammatory rhetoric and personal elements displayed by some political leaders while campaigning.
She noted that such behavior was in direct violation of the political parties’ code of conduct the contesting parties signed on to.
The New Zealand diplomat also pointed out instances where the portraits of the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Education were prominently displayed in many primary and nursery schools during voting.
According to her, the polling day staff seemed unaware of instructions from Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to have them removed.
She also spoke of the disturbances on E-Day, in particular when PPP/C political candidate Kwame McCoy was forced to leave the St. Sidwell Primary school prematurely after an angry crowd surrounded the gates in opposition to his presence.
The Commonwealth body however commended the actions of A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) presidential candidate David Granger, as well as police and polling staff in diffusing the situation to allow McCoy safe passage.
Asked whether the veracity of McCoy’s injuries were ever verified, the observer stated that they were not by them.
The observer group, which will be leaving Guyana on May 17th, is expected to prepare a detailed final report containing recommendations for the improvement of the electoral process.
Their report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will then disseminate it to GECOM, political parties, Commonwealth governments, thence the public.
Urging the authorities to seriously consider the proposals, they also promised that, if requested, the Commonwealth will provide the technical expertise to ensure its implementation.
The team, which was deployed to 6 of the 10 administrative regions, was able to observe the opening of polls, voting and the closure of polls.
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