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Private Sector calls on President, GECOM to allow foreign observers for national vote recount

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Sunday called on President David Granger and the seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to ensure the return of foreign observers to witness recount of votes cast in the country’s elections more than two months ago.

“It is now the duty of both the President and the Chairman to facilitate the early return of the foreign observers by issuing such instructions and directions as are necessary,” the umbrella business organisation said.

The PSC’s call was issued in the context of the United States-headquartered Carter Centre saying it was awaiting Guyana governmemr approval for representatives to return to the country to observe the recount.

Despite tight restrictions on incoming passengers, government has from time to time granted waivers for Guyanese, Caribbean and extra-regional nationals to enter Guyana by air. The most recent is the three-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) team of scrutineers who came here on a chartered flight from Antigua, St. Vincent, and Barbados after they were tested negative for the deadly coronavirus, COVID-19.

GECOM spokeswoman, Yoland Ward on Saturday said she was unaware of any other foreign observers travelling to Guyana. She said two local representatives from the Organisation of Ametican States (OAS) would be present at the 25-day  recount expected to start this week at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.

Making out a case for the return of the Carter Centre observer mission, the PSC hailed that  organisation for its “valuable contribution of the Carter Center to democracy and free and fair elections in Guyana for more than 20 years.”

“The Carter Center is an accredited observer to the May 2020 election which remains incomplete until the declaration of the results. As the body constitutionally responsible for supervising elections and the power to ensure fairness in the process, GECOM must ensure that the process is completed transparently and fairly and deliver results considered as credible by all fair minded,” the organisation said.

The PSC noted that since the enactment of the General Elections (Observers) Act No. 17 of 1990, observers have been recognized as a vital part of the electoral process in Guyana. The foreign observers, according to the PSC,  were invited by the President to participate in the 2020 elections by virtue of section 3. (1) of the Act after consultation with the Chairman of the Elections Commission.

The PSC added that “Our country has suffered long enough by the failure of GECOM to deliver on its constitutional mandate. The President and the Chairman Justice Claudette Singh must, therefore, act immediately so that a credible recount can begin expeditiously.”

GECOM is expected to meet Sunday afternoon.

The APNU+AFC last month called the PSC a “stooge” of the opposition  People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

The international observers had been harassed and blocked from entering GECOM headquarters by APNU+AFC supporters to witness the tabulation and declaration of results for Region Four.

After several statements by international observer missions and the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union criticising the credibility of the Region Four process, the Guyana government last month said Guyana is a “Sovereign State.”

Back in 2015, the APNU+AFC had welcomed repeated calls by mainly the US for local government elections to be held.  At that time, unlike now, the then incumbent People’s  Progressive Party (PPP) had heaped criticism on the US for intervening in Guyana’s political affairs.