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Western diplomats urge Guyanese to await official election results

Left to Right: Canada’s High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr. Nicole Giles; Britain’s High Commisioner, Gregory Quinn; Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Persaud; Executive Member of the Private Sector Commission, Gerry Gouveia; United States Charge D’Affaires, Bryan Hunt and Private sector executive , Retired Major General Norman Mc Lean.

The heads of the American, British and Canadian diplomatic  missions  on Tuesday made a unified call for Guyanese to be patient with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as takes the time it needs deliver the official results the 2015 National and Regional Elections.

The call came amidst criticisms that GECOM has, and continues to be tardy with the release of preliminary and the final results of these elections.  The diplomats’ pitch for patience  came even as the coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) was announcing that it has commanded an unassailable lead in Monday’s poll. The coalition said at the present time with 2,025 Statement of Polls counted (or 88%), the APNU+AFC has 182,176 votes, while the PPP/C has 157,947 a variance of 24,229 votes.

Notwithstanding such criticism, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Nicole Giles, British High Commissioner to Guyana, Gregory Quin, and Charge d’ Affairs of the United States (US) Embassy in Guyana, Bryan Hunt, during a joint press conference with the Private Sector Commission (PSC) today, each placed significant emphasis on the need for calm and patience while GECOM works.

“I urge all Guyanese and stakeholders to practice patience and to allow GECOM to now do their work to deliver the official results,” Giles told reporters, iterating a statement her High Commission released earlier in the day.

Speaking to criticisms on GECOM’s perceived lack of timeliness releasing the results of the elections, Giles said “while it takes a while to deliver official elections results…we need to give GECOM the space and time to do that.”

Further emphasizing Giles’ sentiment was Quin who said “we need to give GECOM the time to deliver the results and to deliver an accurate tally of the results.”

Also bearing in mind criticisms aimed at the period of time it takes between the closing of polls and the release of results, Hunt explained that “we have a painstaking process that is designed to give you credibility and faith in the results…”

Quin also took the opportunity to advise the Guyanese public that “only GECOM can give you the results, anything else you hear from any other organisation should not be considered a result.” Giles too said that only GECOM should be relied on for any preliminary or final result of these elections.

“It is important to remember that the only official results are those that are tabulated and issued by the designated, official elections body – GECOM,” she said. 

Quin further said that “…once that result is done everybody needs to accept the result.” He said that if anyone perceives a problem with the process and the results when they are released “there is a judicial process, electoral process to follow, but in the interim everyone must accept the results.” Redress through the court in the event of a lack of satisfaction with the results of these elections was also recommended by Hunt, who said “if parties have concerns there is the judicial process and that is the process that should be utalised…”

The diplomats also expressed confidence in the electoral process as managed by GECOM. Based on observation she made in Region four (4), Essequibo, Linden and Berbice, Giles believes that “GECOM organised a smooth, credible, free and fair electoral process.” Quin and Hunt also made the observation trip which was coordinated with the PSC.

Among other things, she said that GECOM’s operatives, from the opening to the closing of the polls seem to have “professionally and consistently applied the law…” The Canadian High Commission, as well as the British High Commission both had eight (8) persons in the field observing various polling stations.

The United States Embassy, which has a much larger observation team in the field, was also, and remains, very much active in the observation process. Observations made between yesterday and today have convinced Hunt that “what Guyana had yesterday was a free and fair polling process.”

Meanwhile, Chairman of the PSC’s Governance and Security sub-committee, Gerald Gouveia, noted that the PSC worked alongside the Elections Assistance Bureau (EAB) with around 800 observers in the fields.

The work done through the collaborative efforts of all observers, Gouveia says, has made him “confident that the (electoral) process was a free and fair one.”