Commonwealth observers urge peaceful, transparent and inclusive election
The Commonwealth Observer team is calling on all stakeholders to demonstrate a commitment to a peaceful, transparent, credible and inclusive election.
The team, led by Former Prime Minister of Barbados Owen Arthur, in a statement, said the group has observed the six prior elections and is aware of the significance of these elections to the people of Guyana.
He added that the team this year is comprised of 11 eminent persons drawn from across the different regions of the Commonwealth, including Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific.
They arrived in Guyana on February 23, however, the Commonwealth Secretariat staff, who arrived in advance of the Group on 19 February, observed early voting of the disciplined forces on 21 February.
“They bring a wealth of experience from across the social and political spectrum with expertise in the fields of politics, election management, law, the media, gender, civil society and human rights,” according to the statement.
The group was constituted following an invitation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November and has the mandate to observe and evaluate the electoral process independently and impartially.
The observer team will assess the pre-election environment, polling day activities and the post-election period and consider the various factors impinging on the credibility of the electoral process as a whole, the former Barbados Prime Minister said.
Thereafter, the team will report on whether it has been conducted in line with Guyana’s national legislation, as well as the country’s regional and international commitments.
The group is currently meeting with key stakeholders including the Guyana Elections Commission, political parties, civil society, the media, the police and citizen and international observers.
From Friday, observers will be deployed in small teams across the country to observe preparations ahead of polling day and meet with local stakeholders.
On Election Day, the group will observe the opening, voting, closing, counting and the results management processes.
The former Barbados Prime Minister said an interim statement will be issued on the preliminary findings on 4 March 2020. A final report will then be prepared and submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, and subsequently shared with relevant stakeholders and the public. The Group will depart Guyana on 9 March 2020.
The Commonwealth Observer Group is composed of:
Rt Hon Owen Arthur, Former Prime Minister and Professor (Barbados)
Ms Lebrechtta Nana Oye Bayne, Social Economist & Gender Expert (Antigua and Barbuda)
Sir Gerald A. Watt KCN, QC, Speaker of the House of Representatives (Antigua and Barbuda)
Ms Lisa Shoman, Former Foreign Minister and Tribunal Judge and Senior Counsel (Belize)
Ms Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer (Belize)
Mr John Hendra, Former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General (Canada)
Hon Gitobu Imathiu Imanyara, Former MP (Kenya)
Ms Mitra Vasisht, Ambassador of India (Retired) (India)
Ms Sarah Fradgley, Media Expert (New Zealand/UK)
Dr Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives (Sri Lanka)
Mr Stephen John Hiscock, Retired Diplomat (UK)