CARICOM says Suriname polls free, fair and credible ‘up to this point’

The site where the ballot boxes are stored. (OAS photo)

As Guyana struggles to execute its electoral process which started since March 2, its neighbour, Suriname, has successfully pulled off a transparent polling process over the course of the week.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) on Monday noted that its Electoral Observer Mission (CEOM) which was sent to scrutinise the process will be departing today, after spending two weeks in the Dutch-speaking nation.

After the May 25 polls, Caricom said, “The CEOM is pleased to be able to report that its observations and experiences over the past two weeks confirmed that – up to this point in time – Suriname has successfully staged a free, fair, transparent, and credible election.”

To this end, the CEOM urged all entities that are currently engaged in completing the few outstanding tabulations of votes to commit themselves to concluding this process efficiently and speedily.

“The CEOM made it a point of duty to meet with and to listen carefully to virtually all of the entities that were involved in the electoral process, and in particular, to the many Opposition political parties, the Anti-Fraud Platform, the group of local election observers drawn from the Private Sector, and the Inter-Religious Council of Suriname,” it added.

The team would have noted concerns and reservations surrounding possible electoral fraud, each of which was resolved to carefully scrutinise the process for any evidence that would substantiate such concerns. After completely addressing these issues, the team concluded that the country’s system is ‘fundamentally sound’.

Caricom insisted, “Now, after an extensive period of scrutiny, the members of CEOM are pleased to be able to report that, in spite of some administrative and logistical glitches and some COVID-19 related delays, we concluded that we saw and experienced no evidence of fraud in the elections. Furthermore, the CEOM determined that Suriname’s electoral system is fundamentally sound, and that there are many checks and balances built into the system.”

It went on to say that they were impressed with the transparency shown by contesting political parties to bring forward credible results, in spite of the constraints faced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The CEOM was also impressed with the transparency that characterises the electoral system, and the fact that at every stage of the process, representatives of the political parties are permitted to be present to scrutinise the proceedings. The CEOM congratulates the people of Suriname for the manner in which they conducted themselves in expressing their democratic rights, especially in a very challenging COVID-19 environment.”

At present, a three-member Caricom Mission is stationed in Guyana, to scrutinise the ongoing National Recount of votes from the March polls.

This was the second team to be sent and is led by Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cynthia Barrow-Giles; and includes Commissioner of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission, John Jarvis and Deputy Supervisor of Elections of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Sylvester King.

Prior to the delegation’s arrival in Guyana, Caricom Chair, Barbadian Prime Minister, Mia Amor Mottley in a public statement called “on all concerned, to ensure a credible and transparent recount process in order to provide legitimacy to any Government, which would be sworn in as a result.”

According to Prime Minister Mottley, “this [recount] process must be completed without further delay.