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Blue CAPS wants to observe elections; pushes for media monitoring

GECOM officials (left) meeting with Blue CAPS representatives.

The non-governmental pressure group, Blue CAPS, has signaled to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) its intention to observe either local or general elections and called for the re-establishment of the Media Monitoring Unit (MMU).

The organisation, also at a meeting with top officials of GECOM on Monday, September 15, said it was “convinced” that the elections management agency was geared to ensure transparent election.

In a statement on the meeting that focused on GECOM’s readiness and preparation for local and general election, Blue CAPS said the talks focused on a diverse spectrum of issues including how GECOM could share relevant information, such as access to available elections data, voter rolls and lists, civic education materials, and reports of studies the Commission has conducted.

The discussions also touched on the ‘Friends of GECOM’ initiative and observer status at elections along with reviving the Media Monitoring Unit (MMU) and current concerns about the preliminary list of electors.

Blue CAPS said its team left the meeting satisfied that GECOM answered all questions and was convinced of GECOM’s capacity to effectively administer transparent election processes in Guyana whenever dates are set to proceed with local and general elections. Similarly, the team was assured that GECOM’s position on the preliminary list of electors was sincere and that no efforts were being made to undermine the list’s integrity on GECOM’s part.  

Blue CAPS also indicated its desire to see the MMU revived. The MMU has played an important role in previous elections. “We feel it is an idea which time has not passed and it would serve a useful purpose considering the current vigorously politicized media landscape,” according to Clinton Urling, Blue CAPS’ Executive Chairman.

The MMU was scrapped several years ago after the Guyana government refused to endorse continued funding for that entity by the donor community.

Additionally, Blue CAPS registered its desire to play the roles of monitor and observer at upcoming local and/or general elections. “We will monitor the activities of all political parties leading up to and during any election and we will also seek observer accreditation from GECOM for those elections,” Urling adds.

The meeting ended amicably with both parties agreeing to build a professional relationship and working partnership.

In addition to Urling, Blue CAPS was represented by members Joel Simpson, Chontelle Sewett, and Michael Leonard. GECOM was represented by Steve Surujbally, Chairman; Keith Lowenfield, Chief Elections Officer; Vishnu Persaud, Deputy Chief Elections Officer, and Juanita Barker, Legal Officer.