Above: Guyanese Ambassador to the OAS Bayney Karran (OAS Photo/Patricia Leiva)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Guyana had an overall “inclusive and clean electoral process” in its recent national elections, according to the Organization of American States mission that observed the Nov. 28 vote.
The OAS commended what it called “the high level of training and dedication exhibited” by the Guyana Electoral Commission.
“Throughout the day the OAS observers did not witness any incidents of voter intimidation, interruptions of the voting process, or restrictions of the right to a secret vote,” said Professor Gordon Shirley, who led the mission. “Poll workers carried out the counting of the ballots according to legal procedures, and agents from both governing and opposition parties were present during the counting at all observed stations.”
The organization said called GECOM’s efforts to adopt Codes of Conduct for both political parties and media and the reopening of its media monitoring unit as positive aspects of the campaign period.
“This is a sign of vibrant democracy in the Caribbean, and demonstrations of how you take democracy very seriously,” said OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. “The EOM’s reports are, very much, a sign of trust in our organization, which we deeply appreciate.”
The OAS also noted what it called positive steps toward creating accountability for party spending, while recognizing the “lack of regulation for campaign contributions,” an issue the OAS Mission cited in St Lucia’s Nov. 28 vote as well.
Shirley, who led the mission, pointed to the country’s measures to guarantee gender participation, despite that only one of the four major political parties fielded a woman at the top of its ticket.
Guyana’s election, which resulted in a minority government for new President Donald Ramotar’s PPP/C party, resulted in some uncertainty as it took several days to proclaim official results.
That period of uncertainty was mentioned by the OAS, which said it considered it “essential that significant actions are carried out by GECOM prior to future elections to instill greater credibility of its actions.”
The OAS mission made several recommendations for Guyana, including the need to guarantee more equitable access to media and political financing, a requirement for disclosure of campaign expenditures before elections and a review of options for proportional party access to advertising time.