October 1, 2016

ABC Diplomats, PSC fielding 500 observers

– McLean not satisfied with Voters’ Education

BY EDWARD LAYNE

With Local Government Elections (LGE) less than two weeks away, the Private Sector

PSC Chairman Norman McLean along with members of the Commission and representatives of the diplomatic community during a press conference

PSC Chairman Norman McLean along with members of the Commission and representatives of the diplomatic community during a press conference

Commission (PSC) along with the United States of American, British and Canadian diplomatic missions in Georgetown, will be deploying some 500 observers to overlook the day’s proceeding.
This was announced by PSC Chairman, Norman McLean during a joint PSC/diplomatic news conference on Friday.
McLean said the Commission has once again applied to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for the observer status and intends to deploy its members across the various regions in Guyana to observe the proceeding thus ensuring an election free, fair and free of fear.
“The Commission is therefore ready to lend its support to ensure that the Local Government Elections are fairly conducted and this is our charge, this is our mission,” McLean told reporters.
He said that the elections, being held after more than two decades, is of significant importance and allows for a true demonstration of local democracy.
“These elections which are held for the first time since 1994 present the opportunity for Guyanese to exercise the will of the people in ensuring that the elections are free fare and peaceful, as well as ensuring we continue the stability and proper functioning of the local government organs in this country,” the PSC chairman said.
While McLean could not say how many of PSC representatives will be deployed on Elections Day, Charge d’Affaires at the US Embassy Brian Hunt said that they will be deploying some 70 observers.
Head of Aid at the Canadian High Commission here Daniel Joly, as well as British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn cold not say how many observers their mission would be fielding individually. However, Quinn did say his mission’s focus will be on Georgetown.

Voters education
For the first time, the electorate will be voting under a hybrid electoral system of First-Past-The-Post and Proportional Representation and this seems to be of worry to the PSC boss who said while he recognised that GECOM did make efforts to educate voters, more could have been done.
“I feel better could have been done and I think what we have at the moment they have done a very good job but better could have been done,” Mc Lean said.

GECOM ready
Meanwhile, the US Charge d’Affaires in Georgetown told the news conference that he is confident GECOM was in a state of readiness for the March 18 polls.
“We are confident that the preparations that would have been made by the Guyana Elections Commission are adequate to ensuring a free and fair contest and we look forward to seeing our observers see a high turnout on Election Day,” Hunt said.

The results
When asked if the diplomatic missions will make pronouncements about the conduct of the elections before GECOM, bearing in mind the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had condemned this course of action by the diplomatic community during the May 11, 2015 General and Regional Elections, British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn said such a practice is appropriate, referring to what took place during the May 11 Elections.
“In my opinion, to be perfectly honest, is that what we did at the time was completely appropriate. Looking back at that would I do anything different today – no,” Quinn said.
The British High Commissioner also sought to justify the decision of the ABC diplomats back in May 2015, explaining that the declaration the elections were free and fair ahead of GECOM, was based on a wide variety of assessments.
“We pronounced on the basis the views of not only what we have seen, but a variety of international organisations had seen and I know what the protocol said. Our view has not changed and no evidence has been given to change that view in my intervening period,” he said.
The holding of LGE is a campaign promise of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change coalition.

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