‘Now is the time for decisions and actions’ – EU Observer Mission urges constitutional reform

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One year after departing Guyana after the March 2020 General and Regional Elections, the European Union (EU) Observation Mission (EMO) has returned to Guyana, this time to mobilise local authorities to implement recommendations that include constitutional and electoral reform.

“Now is the time for decisions and actions,” Head of Delegation and Chief Observer of the EOM, Mr. Paet Urmas, said during a press briefing at the Arthur Chung Conference Center (ACCC) on Friday.

He said, with an aim to kick start this process, a round table discussion is organized for Monday, March 25, 2021 where stakeholders including representatives from the government, political opposition, and the local election machinery will be brought together to discuss the way forward.

“For election reform to be effective, its implementation needs to begin well before the next elections are called. Inclusive and transparent reform processes help build confidence in elections and their results,” Urmas said.

Head of Delegation and Chief Observer of the EOM, Mr. Paet Urmas

The EU EOM made 26 recommendations for consideration which include a review and consolidation of the fragmented election legislation, an overhaul of GECOM and legislation to regulate political/campaign financing.

Urmas spent time emphasizing the need for effective legislation that regulates campaign financing. He said it is not good enough that no one knows where the money came from to fund political parties in the run-up to the March 2020 elections.

Other recommendations include a transforming of the state media into a genuine public service broadcaster and clear procedures for the transmission and tabulation of election results.

Urmas said any declaration should be accompanied by simultaneous publication of detailed polling station results and digital copies of all Statements of Polls.

The EU EOM also urged the establishment of a comprehensive election dispute resolution system.

Already, the EOM, headed by Mr. Urmas, has met with President Irfaan Ali; Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon; Chairperson of the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM, Justice (retired) Claudette Singh; Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir; Chief Justice, Roxane George and Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd.

Reporting on these meetings, the Chief Observer said the authorities have demonstrated a willingness to start the process of implementing the recommendations either in full or in part but noted that ultimately it is up to the Guyanese people and politicians who dictate the law-making system.

“The things that happened last year should not happen again… we really want to see a strengthened democracy and electoral system in Guyana,” he added.

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