Carter Center pulls out of Guyana over security concerns

Elections 2020

…reports harassment by APNU/AFC supporters, threats to intl community

Another international Elections Observer Mission has pulled out of Guyana, this time citing security concerns, in addition to the absence of an ongoing electoral process and increasing restrictions on travel because of COVID-19.

Co-leader of the Carter Center Observer Mission to Guyana, Jason Carter (2nd from right) along with co-Chair, former Prime Minister of Senegal, Aminata Touré

The Center had been observing Guyana’s election and its decision to withdraw from observing the electoral process any further comes after similar pull-outs by the missions fielded by Organisation of the American States and the Commonwealth.
The Center announced its pullout from observing Guyana’s 2020 General and Regional Electoral process on Friday, saying, “in light of the current injunction and subsequent legal process, there is not currently electoral activity for The Carter Center to observe.”
According to the America-based Elections Observer Mission, “the security environment in Georgetown has [also] declined in the wake of the impasse created by the non-transparent tabulation process in Region Four.”
It was reported that “observers have been harassed, and protesters supportive of the APNU/AFC [A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change] coalition have at times blocked international observers from doing their work.”
According to the Mission, which was led by Jason Carter, “specific threats have also been made against the international community that are unacceptable and further undermine the credibility of the electoral process.”
It was noted, however, “the Center hopes that conditions will be in place for Caricom to return to Guyana to supervise a national recount.”

APNU supporters protesting the presence of the international community in Guyana

The Mission in announcing its departure recounted “Guyana’s electoral process began well. The Carter Center noted that the polling it observed on March 2 was well-administered and reflected international standards for democratic elections. The process was sound and capable of delivering results that credibly reflect the will of the people.”
According to the Mission’s statement, while tabulation was well-conducted in nine of 10 regions, in Region four – by far the largest region – “the credibility of the tabulation process deteriorated when, after some delay, results were announced before the region’s full results were transparently tabulated in the presence of party scrutineers and observers.”
The Mission reported the environment at the GECOM office where the tabulation was being conducted for Region Four, “was at times chaotic because of the large number of persons present and the efforts by PPP/C representatives and others to disrupt the declaration of results.”
It was pointed out too that, “when that process was resumed following litigation and a court order, it still did not comply with expectations set by Guyana’s Chief justice and failed to meet international standards…As such, the tabulation process in Region Four continued to lack credibility.
The Center also recalled the Guyana Election Commission’s (GECOM’s) willingness to support the recount under Caricom’s (Caribbean Community) supervision and appreciated the measures taken to make that happen.
In light of the most recent injunction filed in the High Court, the Center said it is hoped that any remaining legal issues hindering the recount can be addressed quickly to avoid further delaying a satisfactory resolution to the electoral process.
According to the Mission, it is still hoped that the electoral process can still be concluded with credible results and that the will of the Guyanese people – as expressed at the polls on March 2 – will be carried out.
”Beyond the election, The Carter Center continues to believe that Guyana’s winner-takes-all system is in need of reform and encourages all parties to commit to national reconciliation and to completing key constitutional reforms in the near future.”
The Carter Center Elections Observer Mission team to Guyana was co-led by Chair of the Carter Center’s Board of Trustees, Jason Carter and former Prime Minister of Senegal, Dr Aminata Touré.
The Carter Center first became involved in Guyana in the early 1990s and has observed elections in Guyana since 1992.