Local observers on Monday reported minimal anomalies during the Local Government Elections process, crediting this improvement to the well-trained staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
A total of 10 local observer groups were accredited this year to provide oversight on the Local Government Elections 2023, namely: the High Commission of Canada; the Embassy of the United States; the British High Commission; the Delegation of the European Union; the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES); AmCham Guyana; the Private Sector Commission (PSC); the Guyana Council of Organisations for Persons with Disabilities; the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC); and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).
The PSC and AmCham established a command centre and application to monitor the happenings across the country, where information was being fed from observers on the ground.
Executive Director of the PSC, Ian Chung told Guyana Times, “What we’re seeing so far is that at all the polling stations, things are moving smooth. We’re very appreciative of that fact. The polling agents, we’re getting reports that they’re operating at a high standard. We’ve had no reports of incidents at this time.”
He added, “We found that the staff of GECOM are very knowledgeable of the process. They’re following the process to the T. If there’s any discrepancy, the Presiding Officer is taking control of that. At the end of the day, we’ve had no significant reports.”
The idea was to have a full overview of what was taking place, and real-time monitoring of all developments. At the end, a report would be curated and presented, documenting what transpired.
Chung detailed, “The idea is to have a complete overview of the procedure that is taking places. Our agents are spread throughout the country. We have agents from Region Two all the way to Region Nine. We’re trying to cover all the administrative regions of the country. We want to be able to have a full overview of everything.”
Chairman of the Governance and Security Sub-Committee, Desmond Sears explained that some 60 observers were scattered to overlook the activities.
“They communicate whatever they see. If they observe any anomalies, they send that through to the command centre and then we will disseminate or make contact with GECOM or any other shareholder in this activity,” Sears noted.
The command centre would run until the close of polls and even after, until results are tabulated, confirmed and announcement.
As stated in Section 86 (1) (b) and Section 93 (1) of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, the Elections Commission is empowered to appoint local observers for the purpose of observing Local Government Elections. The manner in which local observers are approved is detailed in section 4E of the Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:03, which replaced Section 20 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2000.
There are a number of criteria that groups wishing to observe elections must follow. Among them is familiarity and experience with electoral laws and processes. Groups were required to have previous experience in election monitoring, and be able to maintain impartiality while conducting their duties. (G12)