Home News GECOM to team up with EU for election assistance
…help from US, Canada being explored
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be receiving help from the European Union (EU), which will be fielding an observer team for the General and Regional Elections scheduled for March 2, 2020.
This was revealed by Government-nominated Commissioner Charles Corbin following a meeting at the secretariat on Tuesday. He noted that discussions have been held not only with the EU, but also Canada and the United States.
“The EU team visited. They have engaged with the Government. And they have indicated they’re prepared to mount an observer mission. And basically they have been engaging with other stakeholders in Guyana. And they engaged with the Commission (Tuesday) to explain the scope of their operations and methods”.
“The Commission, on its part, welcomed their involvement and indicated that we would support their involvement. The Commission is open to receiving any assistance that corresponds with the need that they have”.
Corbin further noted that while these countries have extended an offer to help, discussions are needed to narrow down what form this assistance will take. However, he noted that some interventions have already been made.
“Most of the major countries— Canada, US, EU— that have engaged with the Commission, have made their services available to provide any support that they need. We’ve already had interventions through diplomatic channels to facilitate some of the work we’re doing to aid our operations and that will continue,” he said.
It was only a few days ago that it was announced that GECOM Secretariat would be benefiting from the technical expertise of retired Chief Electoral Officer of Canada’s elections body, Jean-Pierre Kingsley.
His appointment is being funded by the Canadian Government. According to GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward, the Canadian High Commission here had offered the elections body technical assistance in the form of providing an expert and the seven-member Elections Commission had approved, accepting the offer, which resulted in the former Canadian Electoral Officer being appointed.
Kingsley, who has 17 years of experience under his belt, is currently in Guyana conducting familiarisation meetings with stakeholders. He has already met the Justice Claudette Singh-led GECOM Commission last week, as well as the senior management at the elections body.
The former Canadian Chief Electoral Officer served from 1990 to 2007, during which he participated in many significant international development missions aimed at promoting democratic electoral processes through cooperation, capacity building, and mutually beneficial relationships. He also provided electoral assistance to several Caribbean countries, including Trinidad and Tobago.
According to his profile on the Canadian elections body website, Kingsley was proactive during his term in office, recommending and promoting key initiatives to make the electoral process more accessible. While ushering in reforms needed to comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, he led elections in Canada into the age of computerised election administration.
The international community has been instrumental, along with the parliamentary opposition and civil society, in putting pressure on the Government to hold elections. With the exception of Canada, the international community has been on the Government’s case urging constitutional compliance.
Last month, the Commonwealth became the latest in a line of organisations to urge the President to call elections immediately. Similar calls also came from the United States, British and European Union diplomatic representatives.
Soon after, the UK High Commission took the step of advising that continued funding for two infrastructural projects were on pause. Design work on the Seawall rehabilitation project and the Linden to Mabura road was previously funded from the UK Caribbean Infrastructure Fund.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said that intervention by the international community regarding the hosting of General and Regional Elections here was “wholly necessary”. The President has since named March 2, 2020 as elections date.