I have noted opposition to the proposed electoral reform project in Guyana. The stance of the opposers is that the project should not go forward, and that it is led by the International Republican Institute (IRI). Many of those who have voiced such objections were central players and beneficiaries of last year’s rigging attempt, so it’s no surprise that they are against putting measures in place to prevent a recurrence. What I find duplicitous, though, is their opposition to the IRI’s involvement in this project that will be spearheaded by the Government with the involvement of the political opposition. It was this very IRI which spearheaded and funded the “Vote Like A Boss” campaign in 2015. All those now crying foul were supportive then. What caused the change?
It is important to note that the electoral reform project would encourage the involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) so as to ensure that the reform is in line with regional and international standards. The US Embassy spoke about the project recently, saying it would allow for GECOM, the Attorney General’s Chambers and CSOs to collaboratively consolidate and improve local electoral and constitutional law knowledge. It would also improve collaboration for joint advocacy actions, while promoting reform through citizen engagement.
In this regard, I strongly oppose the position taken by the WPA, ACDA, GHRA and the others, as I recognise the importance of this project as we move forward as a country. This project, which is slated to last about 18 months, would strengthen the capacity of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Attorney General’s Chambers in relation to electoral processes, so that we do not go down the same road we did in 2020. The only way to ensure that does not happen is to have proper electoral reform, and the IRI is here to assist with just that.