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Caricom observer mission gets down to work

Head if the Caricom Observer Mission, Earl Simpson.

by Zena Henry

With only two days to go, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has come on board, joining other foreign missions in the observance of the General and Regional elections. The 10-member team which is headed by Jamaica’s Deputy Director of Elections, Earl Simpson and Josephine Tamai, Belize’s Chief Elections Officer, will be in the country for approximately eight days.

Like the other missions here the group has made is very clear that they have no executive or persuasive powers since their only task is to observe the whole process and make their recommendations.

During a press briefing at CARICOM’s headquarters May 8, Simpson said that the team was put together with the direction of the regional body’s General Secretary, Irwin LaRocque following a request by the Head of the Presidential Secretariat here Dr. Roger Luncheon.

Having arrived on Wednesday the body said it is yet to meet with all major stakeholders in the electoral process but has already began to get a sense of what is happening through communication mediums. From, the looks of things, Simpson said, its looks like it will be a ” pretty competitive election,” and “the mission will be closely monitoring what is happening or being said and will make their observations in their report.”

The Head of mission reiterated that the group will only be tasked with observing the process and insisted that every observer team makes recommendations, and “that’s just what they are… recommendations.”

When asked, Simpson- whose last observation in Guyana was 2001,- said that he has not gotten the time as yet to peruse the last set of recommendations made since the last observer mission in the last election. He said he has not gone into detail into those recommendations, “to get a feel as to whether those recommendations were taken on board.”

With such a small team, the CARICOM group is confident that it will liaison with other observer missions in fulfilling their task and getting a fair idea of what is taking place.

In the meantime, as Guyana is a member of the regional body, Simpson said from that angle, “The mission will be looking to see if the process was conducted according to rules, laws, regulations set out by the Constitution, the representation of the People’s Act and the procedures that govern election coming out of the Guyanese electoral commission. So we seek to observe whether those are followed, and we will make our comments and recommendations as we see it.”

The body said that it will make a preliminary report which will be handed over to the General Secretary who will then disseminate to the President of the country and meaningful stakeholders.

The body will be observing campaigning styles, the opening of polls on Election Day, the counting of ballots, the preparation of statement of poll and transmission of results to Returning Officers and GECOM.

The will observe and assess the outcome of the election and the initial immediate impact on the social and political environment. “After observing the voting procedure and the count on polling day, we will compile a preliminary statement to be issued to the media on our initial assessment of the process we observed.”