EU commends govt’s electoral reform efforts

The European Union’s (EU) team of experts has commended the government’s implementation of several recommendations in the final report by the European Observation Mission based on its observation of Guyana’s 2020 General and Regional Elections.

In 2020, the EU deployed an observation team to Guyana to witness the March 2, 2020 elections. The mission made 26 recommendations to stakeholders.

Eight of these recommendations were highlighted as priority, and so far, two of these have been fully implemented, through provisions contained in the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2022.

More than three years after the elections, the union deployed an election follow-up mission to assess the progress of the implementation of the recommendations outlined in the final report.

EU Election Follow-up Mission, headed by Javier Nart, hosted a press conference on Wednesday

The mission hosted a press conference at the Pegasus Hotel on Wednesday which comprised Chief of Mission and Member of the European Parliament, Javier Nart, Electoral Analyst, Alexander Matus, and Legal Expert Anne Marlborough.

Noting that the tabling of the Data Protection Bill of 2023 marks a commendable step towards adopting data protection, Matus said several other recommendations have seen implementation.

“There are two priority recommendations that have been implemented in full. One deals with clear tabulation; written procedures are implemented. That has been taken care of by one of the provisions in the Representation of the People Amendment Act. There are now clear written procedures on how to tabulate the results of the elections from step one to the final announcement,” he said.

The act also requires that the Statements of Poll (SoPs), among other certified forms be distributed to the Chief Election Officer, and the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) while imposing on the returning officer, the responsibility of posting an electronic copy of the SoP on the commission’s website to be publicly viewed.

This directly addresses the second priority recommendation, which called for increased transparency in the results process.

Additionally, the National Registration (Amendment) Act provides for continuous registration to be done by the GECOM, addressing a recommendation to increase the continuous voter registration aspect.

It also attaches stricter penalties for breaches in its provisions and provides for additional offenses related to identification cards.

The mission has met a wide range of Guyanese electoral stakeholders, including members of the government, and GECOM, and has facilitated a roundtable discussion with stakeholders on the current status of electoral reform.

The mission will publish a final report, which will offer a detailed analysis of the existing arrangements for elections in Guyana, as well as of the extent to which the EU mission recommendations have been addressed.