Former MP calls for wider body of int’l observers at next elections
Although a date is still to be decided on the next general and regional elections, the inevitability of this eventuality looms, and many persons are already gearing up to participate in elections this year.
As such, former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Member of Parliament (MP) Dr Kwame Gilbert is calling for a larger presence of international observers for the next elections.
“The stakes are the highest they have ever been. Compounded by the deterioration of trust, it is even more imperative to have a wider body of international observers,” he said.
Dr Gilbert, a former Presidential Advisor on Social Policy, told this newspaper that he would also call on the parliamentary parties to jointly agree for that level of electoral oversight.
His call comes after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) reported last October leading to Local Government Elections that there was a shortfall in applications for election observers.
Following that update, the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the European Union submitted their applications to become observers. Their applications were approved.
Dr Gilbert has pointed to the need for more groups and countries to join in observing the next elections, which by all suspicions could be another historic one.
Gilbert said he is looking forward to the participation of the Carter Center, which has been deeply involved in Guyana since observing the election of 1992.
In 1991, Cheddi Jagan visited the former US President and requested that the Center monitor the election of 1992. Carter visited and had extensive discussions with the late former President Desmond Hoyte. He eventually agreed to this proposal for the Center to be an observer.
But on elections day, Jagan’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was winning. This led to riots erupting in Georgetown, with buildings being burned and several people killed. It was later declared that in fact the PPP had won. The chaos continued but later stopped.
“In view of our history, concerns regarding a possible compromise of the process are justified. However, both international and local observers would be valuable in mitigating these concerns,” the former MP said when asked whether he thinks the process would be a fair one.
During the December 21, 2018 no-confidence vote tabled by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in the National Assembly, the coalition Government was defeated when One of the Government MPs broke ranks and voted with the Opposition to have the resolution passed.
The Government has since proposed several legal arguments to question the validity of the vote. But during the first sitting of the National Assembly earlier this month, House Speaker Dr Barton Scotland ruled that the vote was successfully passed.
Persons have for some time argued that the Cabinet should have resigned by now, pursuant to the laws of Guyana. And even though less than 90 days remain in which elections must be held, the GECOM has made no significant moves towards preparing for holding elections.
The hearing of the legal challenges coming out of the no-confidence vote began on Tuesday with acting Chief Justice (CJ) Roxane George approving applications for Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and Minister of State Joseph Harmon to be joined to the proceedings.
The Government believes there was not a majority passage of the no-confidence motion, but the Opposition disagrees and believes that the Government is attempting to buy time in office.
Attorney Christopher Ram had also appealed to join these proceedings to have the High Court validate the no-confidence resolution and have Government comply with Constitutional provisions to demit office and call elections no later than March of this year. Ram’s application to join was approved by Justice George, who also set aside January 24 for oral submissions.
The CJ has given a commitment to make a ruling on all these matters pertaining to the no-confidence resolution, given the national importance of the issue.