A Jamaican group known as Citizens Action For Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) has expressed deep concerns over Guyana’s current electoral impasse, and has called for the national recount process to be transparent.
Established in 1997, CAFEE is a Jamaica-based non-profit organisation with a major focus on monitoring elections and commitment to the democratic process in all countries.
In a statement on Thursday, the group called the current situation here “disturbing”, noting that its concern is heightened since Guyana, like Jamaica, is a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and Commonwealth member state which has pledged its commitment to the maintenance of a fair electoral system.
According to CAFFE, it is fully five weeks since Guyanese voted and the elections’ results remain unclear and highly controversial, largely as a result of the mishandling of the tabulation of votes from one region – Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).
“This is because officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have proceeded to present results that are alleged to be in conflict with the figures from the Statements of Poll (SoPs) which were obtained from the count of votes at the polling locations – without any credible explanation for the variance,” the group noted.
It went on to recognise that GECOM is now undertaking a total recount of the votes in all 10 regions; but added, “Whatever the approach taken, CAFFE is firmly of the view that the process must be transparent and the results should reflect some congruency with the Statements of Poll that were observed at the initial counting of the ballots.”
CAFFE further stressed that while the court has ruled against GECOM being subjected to supervision in this process, it does not consider this to rule out the presence of independent observers, which is a well-accepted feature in democratic countries.
“Anything less than this will expose the declared results of the elections to controversy, and any Government sworn into office on this basis would have questionable legitimacy,” the group contended.
Against this backdrop, the Jamaica-based organisation welcomed the announcement that the re-tabulation will be conducted with the presence of the CARICOM high-level team as observers.
“CAFFE considers that the conduct of the re-tabulation in this way will provide legitimacy and transparency to the process, so that the results will be credible. This will facilitate Guyana taking its rightful place as a fully democratic member of the CARICOM Community devoted to the maintenance of a free and fair electoral system,” it posited.
Moreover, the group referred to the warning of former Commonwealth Secretary General and prominent Guyanese citizen, Sir Shridath Ramphal, who two weeks ago said, “Choose a path that will either lead to a good Guyana or a failed state”.
“The Guyanese people deserve better than this,” the group asserted.
CAFFE says it felt an incumbency to express its concern about Guyana’s situation as a civic society organisation which, since its 1997 establishment, was provided with invaluable technical support and advice by the Guyanese Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB).