Apr 01, 2020 News
Despite pulling its observers out of the country following stalled election developments, and amid the Coronavirus pandemic, international observer mission, the Carter Center, last night disclosed that the mission is ready and committed to observing the remainder of Guyana’s electoral process.
The Center emphasized that nonpartisan observers like themselves have an important role to play. “We report what we see and hear to the rest of the world. Whoever wins the election should want to ensure that their victory is seen as credible,” the Carter Center said in a statement to the press.
“The stakes in this election are very high,” said David Carroll, Director of the Carter Center’s Democracy Program. “One major political parties’ base is mostly Afro-Guyanese, and the other is mostly Indo-Guyanese, and elections tend to bring longstanding ethnic tensions to the surface. Because The Carter Center has a long history in Guyana – President Carter first led an election observation mission there in 1992 – and is seen as a trusted partner, it was important for us to observe this election,” he said.
The Carter Centre emphasized how the country’s two major political parties – which are divided largely along ethnic lines – desperately, want to control the coming wealth.
“Every election is important, of course, but this one was deemed especially so because five years ago, Exxon discovered massive amounts of oil off the coast of Guyana. The first barrels hit the market in January. Now this small, poor nation is poised to become a very rich one,” the Center highlighted.
The Center deployed a team of ten election experts and long-term observers to Guyana in January, and in late February, they were joined by more than 30 short-term observers led by Aminata Touré, former prime minister of Senegal, and Jason Carter, chair of The Carter Center Board of Trustees.
“Guyana stands at a crossroads,” Carter said. “Not only is it critical that this election is seen as credible, it’s also essential that it serves as a springboard to a future that is more inclusive and so that all the people of Guyana can share in this new wealth.
The international observer group chronicled the activities beginning with the General and Regional Election, up until the day the observer group exited the country.
“Election day proceeded smoothly. The Center’s observers sent back mostly positive reports from all 10 of the country’s regions. But tallying went astray in Region 4 – which is the largest region and includes the capital of Georgetown – when, after only half the results for the region had been tabulated in the presence of observers, the returning officer responsible for the tallying abruptly announced the rest of results, which indicated that the ruling party had come from behind to win the election.”
The Center added that, “Four weeks after Election Day, Guyana still doesn’t have a new President. The Carter Center – concerned about the stalled process, international travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 virus, and harassment of observers by ruling party supporters – made the difficult decision to pull its observers out of the country on March 20
And so the country – and the world – waits.”
Nonetheless, the Centre will grant its full support to the country to see the finalization of the electoral process so that credible results can be announced. Furthermore, the Center is also committed to supporting constitutional reform in Guyana.
“The Carter Center has long believed that Guyana needs to reform its constitution and electoral laws to get rid of its winner-takes-all election system, which tends to exacerbate conflict,” Carter said. “We believe it is critical for Guyana to make these changes to help make it possible for Guyanese to live together in peace and prosperity.”
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