Mar 20, 2021 News
By Kemol King
Kaieteur News – The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) yesterday addressed reporters one year after the 2020 general and regional elections on the purpose of its visit to Guyana – to help kick-start reforms pivotal to ensuring the smooth process of future elections.Notably, the final report was released on June 5 last year. However, at that time, the mission was not in the country. It had left in March 2020. This time, it is back to meet with stakeholders to talk about those recommendations. It has already met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairperson, Ms. Claudette Singh; the Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire; Attorney General, Anil Nandlall; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hugh Todd; Speaker of the House, Manzoor Nadir; and members of the Government and Opposition.
Chief Observer and Member of the EU Parliament, Urmas Paet, told reporters “Now is the time for decisions and actions. For election reform to be effective, its implementation needs to begin well before the next elections are called. Inclusive and transparent reform processes help build confidence in elections and their results.”
Paet noted during an interview after the conference, that there is a lack of direct contact between the two sides.
He said that communication is essential if the two are to appropriately reform the electoral system for the country’s benefit. He added that though they are not always in agreement, talks, especially at the parliamentary level, should be had.
“For the most important issues in the society, it would be always good if [government] and opposition at least can talk to each other, to discuss together, some issues.”
Asked what the most concerning part of the electoral process last year was for him, EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz-Cantó, said, “For me, the moment when the count stopped, and everything had gone so well until then, that was without any doubt, the most concerning moment. As a friend of the country, and having seen personally how people were actually working well in the voting stations and all the things, during voting, they had gone so well, in the sense that the procedures were followed. Then, the count stopped, it was a bad moment. But I’m very happy and I think it is to Guyana’s merit that you the Guyanese managed to finally put a greater democratic and almost completely peaceful solution (in place).”
He noted that there were some incidents, but that it was mostly peaceful and democratic.
“I think that now is the moment actually to look to the future – not to the past – to the future. You will see that the recommendations are very future oriented.”
Speaking to Kaieteur News after the press conference, Ponz-Cantó said that it is entirely up to Guyana and its people to decide whether the EOM’s recommendations would be helpful.
What we do is to put at the disposal of Guyana, a set of recommendations and then it is entirely up to Guyana and to its authorities, to decide whether some of them, or all of them, or none of them, are going to be helpful.
“The delegation will continue the work after the mission leaves, in the sense that we will continue to be at the disposal of Guyana, if Guyana decides to go ahead with some recommendations. Then we can see what we can do to help if eventually we can mobilize some kind of assistance. Again, the bottom line is that it is entirely up to Guyana,” Ponz-Cantó said.
The EU EOM’s final report lists 26 recommendations, with eight priority recommendations: “to review and consolidate the fragmented election legislation; launch a consultation process to overhaul the composition and functioning of the Elections Commission; develop effective legislation to regulate political finance; foster transparency and accountability in online and offline campaigning; transform the state-owned media into a genuine public service broadcaster; adopt clear written procedures for transmission and tabulation and tabulation of election results; accompany any declaration of results by simultaneous publication of detailed polling station results and digital copies of all Statements of Poll; and establish a comprehensive election dispute resolution system.”
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