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Govt, Private Sector hope observers will minimise challenge of election results

The Guyana government and the business community appear to be banking on international observers, including the well-respected Carter Centre, to quell any unease about the results of the upcoming general and regional elections.

Less than one week after government said it was asking foreign observers to be here well in advance and long after ballots would have been cast on May 11, 2015, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) said that election watchdogs would be key in political parties accepting the results.

“The PSC has full confidence in the Guyana Elections Commission to efficiently and effectively carry out their mandate. However, it is important for the confidence of all stakeholders to have the work of GECOM independently observed and their outputs validated by respected third parties.

The acceptance of the elections results and subsequently allowing the democratically elected government to execute their mandate is of pivotal importance for us the citizens of this young, democratic country,” PSC Chairman, Ramesh Persaud told US Secretary of State, John Kerry in appealing to him to support the Guyana government’s efforts to have the Carter Centre to field a “full observer mission.”

Political pundits from the incumbent People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) and the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) predict that either side could win at least 52 percent of the popular vote- a narrow margin.

Government earlier this week announced that the Carter Centre has completed a needs assessment to determine the extent of its engagement as an observer mission.

Headed by Former US President, Jimmy Carter, the Centre last fielded a full-fledged observer mission to Guyana in 2001 but after he became disillusioned with the country’s political gridlock and a winner-take-all system in 2004, that organisation had merely dispatched a low-keyed targeted or focused mission for the 2006 elections.

The PSC told the US Secretary of State in its March 12, 2015 letter that Guyana needs “adequate, independent and competent observers” in light of recent political developments. “This is to ensure that the elections are free and fair, free from fear, the results are free from contention and accepted by all the competing parties,” the PSC said.

Government has said that it hopes 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.