Neither party seems to have paid any heed over the last ten years to the Carter Center’s articulate recommendation by its elections observer team of 2006 for Gecom to abandon the very management model brokered by the Center in 1992, as it had since become dysfunctional and counterproductive. The actual quote was as follows:
“(a) GECOM should be independent from the government and be accountable to and receive funding from the National Assembly. The independence of GECOM from the government’s administration will bolster the Commission’s credibility and independence.
“(b) The Carter- Price formula for GECOM should be changed to ensure that GECOM is not divided solely along political lines.
(I) GECOM should be composed of individuals who are solely committed to carrying out a successful and transparent elections process, and who have the confidence of political parties, but who can also maintain independence, as noted in The Carter Center’s report on the 2001 elections, ”As part of electoral reform efforts, Guyana should give careful consideration to alternative models, possibly reducing or eliminating political party representation and increasing the role of independent members of civil society and professional experts.
(II) Gender representation should be ensured in GECOM’s composition.
“(c) Communication between GECOM, the political parties, civil society, and election observers needs to improve.
This can be achieved through the establishment of a liaison office to coordinate communication with political parties, observer groups, and civil society. Such an office would need adequate staffing and funding.
(I) GECOM’s transparency will be elevated by additional communication with these parties, and could easily be achieved through publication of GECOM meeting minutes or a summary of such minutes.
(II) Improved communication will also strengthen the relationship between GECOM and domestic observer groups.
“(d) Ensure that appropriate legal remedies be exercised in considering challenges to the electoral results. In addition, new legislation should be debated that provides for correcting results, if evidence is later provided that errors were made in determining the composition of the National Assembly.
“(e) Speed up reporting of the vote count. This might be achieved using electronic means to transmit preliminary results. Such means should be tested thoroughly before the next general elections, if possible, during local government elections.”
Please note that the above along with other observations and comments were submitted after meetings. The Carter Center leadership delegation met with President Jagdeo, PNCR-1G Leader Robert Corbin, Leaders of the AFC, Gecom Chairman; the European Union, the Commonwealth, the US and Caricom ambassadors and group leaders; and senior civil society leaders.
It is difficult to understand the persistence over the past ten years by all the leaders in not at least exploring the possibilities offered. One only has to download the respective government websites to view the models, say in Barbados, Jamaica, Canada and Australia.
Such an effort can be no more futile than the current contentious exercise. Indeed it can be a joint exploration of an opportunity to transparently relieve the obstructions.
E B John