Experts from India, Ghana to join GECOM team

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Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice (rt’d) Claudette Singh has confirmed that two experts from the Commonwealth are to join a team of expert electoral advisors to help her and the Commission through the 2020 general and regional elections.

She identified the two latest persons to be Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, a Ghanaian academic, political scientist and election administrator. He was Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana from 1993 to 2015.

Joining him will be Dr. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi. He served as 20th Chief Election Commissioner of India. He is also a retired I.A.S. officer.

Justice Singh said she was pleased to have these technical advisors working along with her and the Commission.

This is in addition to the technical support being offered by the United States Embassy through the International Republic Institute.

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield said these advisors will only be providing support on best practices but GECOM intends to conduct the elections in keeping with local laws and processes.

“The Commission is not giving up its rights, the advisors are here based on experience in best practices but we will not allow our authority to be usurped,” he explained.

These Commonwealth advisors presence before, during and after elections will complement the assistance to be provided by former Canadian Chief Election Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who is already on board.

The Chairman’s confirmation followed claims that the Commission has been resisting proposals from foreign entities to send experts to assist in the preparation and conduct of elections on March 2nd, 2020.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, in particular has been an aggressive critic of GECOM for its alleged posture against assistance.

Under the General Elections (Observers) Act, the President may after consultations with the GECOM Chair invite persons to observe the elections.

Meanwhile, Lowenfield also encouraged local civic and other groups who are interested in being observers in the upcoming elections to make their applications early.

He said GECOM received some applications already but would appreciate if all indications of willingness to participate could be made before December 31, 2019.

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