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APNU, GECOM tell UN team about electoral challenges

The UN Electoral Mission (left) meeting with top officials of APNU (PNC photo)

The main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU has raised a number of concerns related to electioneering with a United Nations Electoral Mission.

“The APNU team outlined several matters of concern, including the lack of access to state media, the need for more voter education; the timely declaration of election results, the inadequacy in the allocation of resources to Returning Officers and the Government’s use of State resources for the purposes of campaigning,” APNU said in a statement.

APNU did not provide any details in a statement issued to the media about the discussions that were held on Wednesday.

In the past, opposition political parties have complained bitterly that government has limited their access to the state-owned radio, television and newspapers and have, instead, opted to deliver coverage that is largely in favour of the administration and the ruling party.

International observers, including those from the Commonwealth and the Organisation of American States (OAS), have repeatedly documented concerns about the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) using State resources for electioneering.

There have been concerns about that the declaration of official results usually takes more than two days.

The UN team was headed by Mr. Richard Gee, Electoral/Political Affairs Officer in the Electoral Assistance Division, Department of Political Affairs – The United Nations; and included Ms. Lea Zoric of the Elections Department of Political Affairs and Mr. George Wachira, Policy Advisor, United Nations Development Programme – UNDP, Guyana.

 Gee, according to APNU, outlined the main purpose of the team’s visit to Guyana. He said that theirs was primarily a ‘needs assessment’ mission, in support of the electoral process. “Particular attention was being paid to the interest of political and other stakeholders and an assessment was being made of the pre-election environment. Part of the team’s mission was also to provide support for the electoral institutions like the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM),” added that political organisation. 

Leader of the Opposition, Brigadier David Granger who headed a team of APNU Members of Parliament, welcomed the UN Team and provided a brief historic overview of the political circumstances leading up to President Donald Ramotar naming a date for General and Regional Elections. 

The APNU’s team included Mr. Basil Williams, MP; Mr. Joseph Harmon, MP and APNU’s General Secretary,  Ms. Amna Ally, MP; Mr. Winston Felix, MP and APNU’s  Campaign Director,  and Mr. Desmond Trotman, MP.

GECOM, for its part, said in a separate statement that During the UN team discussed the upcoming elections and the challenges the Commission may face in the successful delivery of the polling in May. “Some of the points discussed included results management, electoral disputes, party financing, gender, voter information, and campaign access to media, as well as the role of international and national observer groups,” said GECOM.

GECOM said it took the opportunity to highlight the Commission’s current state of preparation for the conduct of Elections, and further highlighted several areas including, the provision of consultancies, advisors, and experts – particularly in the area of Civic and Voter Education – in which there can be greater collaboration between the Commission and the UNDP.