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Carter Centre likely to observe another historic Guyana election

The Carter Centre appears set to observe Guyana’s general and regional elections for the first time since it 2006, although its Head- Former American President Jimmy Carter- has become rather disillusioned by the state of governance in the South American country.

If the Centre decides against mounting just a targeted or focused mission, it would be the first time that a full-fledged observer team would be dispatched here since the 2001 polls.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon told a news conference on Wednesday that Carter Centre representatives last week Friday (March 13, 2015) completed a needs assessment similar to one conducted by a United Nations team .

Luncheon said the Centre’s assessment appeared to signal that organisation’s interest in fielding a mission to observe the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections expected to be keenly contested by the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) and the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).  “I hesitate to use that for any other purpose other than to say their interest in participating in the election observer mission was the subject of initiation by the administration and that has been responded to,” he said.

Carter led the Centre’s first Observer Mission to Guyana in 1992 when the first internationally certified free and fair election saw the PPPC regaining office for the first time in 28 years.

While the Carter Centre had mounted full observer mission in 1992 and 2001, it merely conducted a targeted or focused observation of the 2006 elections two years after the Former American President visited Guyana for the last time in 2004.

During that visit, at the invitation of then President Bharrat Jagdeo,  Carter had expressed grave disillusion with political gridlock, absence of shared governance and lack of real representation of Guyanese.

“Instead of achieving this crucial goal of inclusive and shared governance, the Guyanese government remains divided with a winner-take-all concept that continues to polarize many aspects of the nation’s life. Most members of parliament are directly dependent upon and responsible to the political party that chooses them, and not to the people whom they profess to represent.

There are only spasmodic meetings between political leaders, and publicized agreements reached during those rare and brief sessions have not been fulfilled. The promises of constitutional reform have been frustrated,” he said in a statement upon his departure on August 13, 2004.

Among his recommendations then, stemming from wide-ranging talks with politicians and civil society, were constitutionally enshrined “substantive governance and election system reforms”  and the creation of an independent civil society forum to lead a structured discussion on a vision for governance of Guyana to promote reconciliation in an ethnically divided landscape.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Presidential Secretariat announced that government was hoping that international observers would begin arriving here as early as April 7- Nomination Day- and remain here for several days after polling day on May 11, 2015. “What you may not be aware of is to have electoral observer missions long before the actual E-Day so that indeed  the period of observation antedates the day of election and indeed extends well beyond that day too,” he said.

The United Nations (UN), Caribbean Community (Caricom), Organisation of American States (OAS), Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), Organisation of Islamic Community (OIC), the Commonwealth, the United Kingdom Branch of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), and the governments of South Africa and India have been also invited to observe what is expected to be Guyana’s most hotly contested election in decades.

There are more than 567,000 registered voters out of a total population of 735,554 persons.