‘Everything is being done to produce free, fair and credible elections’- GECOM Chairman

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Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice Claudette Singh on Friday said: “everything is being done by GECOM to produce free, fair and credible elections; no one should have any doubt about that.”

General and Regional Elections is set for March 02, 2020.

Speaking at a press conference at the Commission’s High Street office on Friday, the Chairman said “GECOM welcomes all observers and technical personnel.”

The Chairman disclosed that the Commission will be receiving two senior electoral advisors from the Commonwealth Secretariat.

There will also be former Chief Elections Officers from Indian and Ghana.

“These…persons will be around and they will be here acting as advisors and overseeing what we are doing in GECOM. They’ll be here before, during and after the elections,” she said.

Former Elections Chief of Canada, Jean-Pierre Kingsley is already in place at the Commission to offer advice on best practices in operational matters. Justice Singh said Kingsley has left Guyana but will return on November 18.

Kingsley served as Chief Electoral Officer of Canada from 1990 to 2007.

As it relates to electoral observers, the Commission Chairman said it is not GECOM’s responsibility to accredit foreign observers.

“GECOM welcome all elections observers,” she said, but explained that the accreditation of foreign observers is an executive function and as such, will be done by the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We welcome everyone to have a look. We’re not shutting the door on anyone,” Justice Singh added.

GECOM, however, has the authority to accredit local observers and thus far, four groups: American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) have indicated their interest. Approval will be granted later in the process.

The Commission has completed training over 13,500 polling day staff and has already acquired ink, seals, ballot boxes and other items for polling day.

The elections body has also allocated 2,350 spaces for polling stations, a number which may be increased bases on the determination of the use of private residences, according to Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield.

GECOM is currently conducting its Claims and Objections exercise. The Claims period ended on November 04 and the Objections period will end on November 11. It is also discussing the usage of the data acquired during the truncated house to house registration.

“It is critical that the list in the first instance is correct to the last elector…and once that critical first step is to the satisfaction of GECOM and all stakeholders in the process, we can move forward to the other subsets of the electoral process,” Lowenfield said.

The CEO said there is no issue with the list at the last general elections nor the two Local Government Elections.

A date has not yet been set for nominations day but GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward said 15 parties have so far indicated an interest in participating in the March 2020 elections.

On nominations day, it will be decided whether all of the parties qualify to contest the elections, after which GECOM will be able to finalise the procurement of its ballot papers.

Over 650,000 persons are expected to vote in the upcoming polls which has been deemed “the mother of all elections” as the country heads into oil production.

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