…ahead of 2025 General & Regional Elections
In continuing their contributions to capacity building in local institutions, the European Union (EU) has fielded a team of experts to discuss electoral reforms in Guyana with officials ahead of the upcoming 2025 General and Regional Elections.
This was revealed by EU Ambassador to Guyana, Rene van Nes, during European Day celebrations at the Georgetown Club on Tuesday evening. He used the occasion to speak of the EU’s contributions to Guyana, including the support that has been provided to infrastructure development.
“What we also did over these years is support Guyana in its efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and promote good governance and combat corruption,” the EU Ambassador said during his address. “We played an important role during the elections of 2020, when the EU fielded an Election Observation Mission; and related to that mission, there are election experts right now in Guyana who are here over the coming weeks to discuss electoral reforms ahead of the General Elections in 2025.”
Following the 2020 General and Regional Elections, The European Union’s Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) had made a number of recommendations. Of the EU EOM’s 26 recommendations, eight are priority suggestions to review and consolidate the fragmented election legislation, and launch a consultation process to overhaul the composition and functioning of GECOM.
Guyana has been undergoing electoral reform, which has been acknowledged by the EU. The group had, last year, reiterated its commitment to support this process as a follow-up to the Election Observer Mission it carried out in Guyana for the 2020 General and Regional Elections.
The Government passed long-awaited amendments to the Representation of the People Act (RoPA) in December 2022, after impassioned debate from both sides of the House and arguments for and against the electoral reforms, which ran past midnight. The Bill zeroes in on electoral challenges and loopholes that were evident during the 2020 polls, and seeks to address them. Not only does the Bill increase the number of polling places, it also mandates the Registrar of Deaths to submit the names of the deceased, so they could be removed from the list.
The Bill also caps the number of electors that can be assigned to a particular polling station, to cut down on the long lines and the subdivision of the regions.
According to Section 6 (A) of the Bill, the polling districts of Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) will be divided.
The Bill also provides that the Statements of Poll (SoPs), among other certified forms, be distributed to the Chief Elections Officer and the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Additionally, it provides for the Returning Officer to post an electronic copy of the SoPs on the Commission’s website to be publicly viewed. Strict fines and penalties are attached to breaches of these reforms in the amended Bill.
It has also been announced that Vice President of the European Commission, Frans Timmermans, will be visiting Guyana in June. During his two-day visit, he is expected to have discussions with Guyanese officials on climate change and sustainable development. According to the EU Ambassador, Timmermans will also have conversations with the media.
“The world is starting to notice what Guyana is doing, especially when it comes to protecting its forests; and the Executive Vice-President is responsible for the EU Green Deal and working on making sure that the EU becomes the first continent that is climate neutral by 2050. We are working with partners to do it. So, he’s really here to help Guyana in doing that.
“Today I was talking with the Government about his programme. He is very keen to meet with the media, and we will organise – during his visit – an engagement with the media, so that he can speak on his agenda, climate change, and the role that Guyana plays in that,” van Nes has said.
Frans Timmermans is a Dutch politician and diplomat serving as First Vice President of the European Commission since 2014. His visit comes at a time when Guyana has made enormous strides in the area of climate resilience. Last year, Guyana signed a historic, multi-year US$750 million agreement with Hess Corporation for the purchase of 37.5 million carbon credits. Guyana is, in fact, the first country to conclude the Architecture for REDD+ Transactions (ART) process of certifying its forest carbon. (G3)