As preparations continue for the hosting of next year’s March 2 General and Regional Elections, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is awaiting the accreditation of foreign observers before going ahead with approving local observers.
This is according to GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh, who, at her first press conference on Friday, dismissed claims that the Commission does not want observers around leading up to next year’s polls and has been blocking foreign bodies from scrutinising its work.
“That is not true. GECOM welcomes all elections observers,” she insisted.
The GECOM Chair went on to point out that it is not the function of the Elections Commission to accredit foreign observers.
“That is an executive function, so that will be done by the President and Foreign Affairs [Ministry], not GECOM. Our duty is to accredit local observers and that would be done as soon as the foreigners are accredited,” Justice Singh said.
At Friday’s press conference, GECOM Public Relations Officer (PRO) Yolanda Ward disclosed that thus far, four local organisations have expressed their interests in observing the elections. These are the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Guyana, Private Sector Commission (PSU), Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).
Last week, the PSC and GCCI said that it has been weeks since their applications were sent to GECOM and they are yet to receive a response as to whether their requests to observe the upcoming polls were approved.
However, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield explained that there is a process in accrediting agencies as elections observers.
“For anyone to suggest that we’re delaying their accreditation, should know there is a process. For example, we don’t know what our OLE (Official List of Electors or voters’ list) will look like, we don’t know how many polling stations we will have and things as such. So once these processes are satisfied… the Commission will deliberate and provide the approvals for these groups to submit whatever else is required, long before elections. It’s too early in the process for us to do that at this point in time,” Lowenfield stressed.