EU Observers urge Guyana to heed recommendations after contentious 2020 Elections

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.

US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch; EU Ambassador to Guyana, Fernando Ponz-Cantó; and High Commissioner of India to Guyana, Dr. K.J. Srinivasa.

Representatives of the EU EOM: Press Officer, Evan Eberle; Chief Observer, Urmas Paet; and Deputy Chief Observer, Alexander Matus.

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.”


EU EOM Guyana 2020 – Final Report

Documents: PDF icon EU EOM Guyana 2020 – Final Report

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  • brandli62  On 03/23/2021 at 3:53 pm

    The EU Observer Mission has done an excellent job in analysing the deficiencies in the Guyanese election system. The list of recommendation that they have compiled is worth reading. For example, they point out the lack of a public broadcasting system that is neutral and reports unbiased. They also are not happy that the Guyanese electorate cannot choose the individuals that will represent time in parliament. They only can vote for a party list. The parties can determine how represents them in parliament. This leave too much power to the party heads. They also point out that party financing is intransparent. Finally, they believe that the voter registry needs to be updated.

    Regarding voter registration (see page 16 onward), they state the following:

    “The 2020 OLE [i.e. Official List of Electors] contained 660,998 names, well above the estimated resident adult population of half a million. It represents a 15.8 percent rise since 2015 with sizeable regional variations (see Chart 1), the significance of which is difficult to assess in the absence of demographic projections following the 2012 census.
    Over the years, there had been concerns about the large increases in the number of registered voters between elections. Institutional efforts to improve voter registration outreach, including better access to birth registration for indigenous communities had contributed to such rises, and proper cleaning of the register had been hampered by lack of sufficient information on death records from concerned agencies.”

    Now, have a look at my opinion published in GO on June 7, 2020 entitled “Guyana Elections: Are 460’035 votes cast in the 2020 general elections credible?”:

  • Yvonne-K  On 03/24/2021 at 9:37 am

    The advice will fall on deaf ears. It’s not in the best interest of this government to have fair, transparent and unbiased elections. We are a Banana Republic and no amount of oil will change that. Before you know it elections will be here again and with the work needed to put things in place, they need to start from NOW. No mention is being made in this regard by this administration.

    • brandli62  On 03/24/2021 at 10:29 am

      Unfortunately, I am afraid that you are right with your analysis. From a practical point of view, discussions between the administration and the opposition probably will not happen before the issue of the election petitions has been decided by the courts. On the other hand, President Ali could just say let the courts do their job but I will meet the opposition leader without any preconditions to see if I can find some common ground for electoral reforms. That’s what a smart leader would do, in my humble opinion. Maybe he will surprise us all, if he happens to read Guyanese Online on a regular basis. 😉

  • the only  On 03/26/2021 at 1:40 pm

    Gecom and my people rigged the election, but now that we got caught and those people are in power we aint talking to them. BTW its just a matter of time before we are in power again.

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