Head of the European Union (EU) Election Observers Mission (EOM), Urmas Paet has assured that the observers of the March 2 Regional and General Elections will be abiding by a strict code of conduct. He said that EUEOM stands ready to deliver an impartial, objective assessment of the electoral process.
“We call on all stakeholders to respect the rules and refrain from inflammatory language and violence…As impartial elections observers, we don’t care who wins. We care about how they win,” Paet said during a media conference at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown this morning.
He noted that this the first time that the EU has deployed a fully-fledged EOM to Guyana. The Mission is currently composed of a core team of nine elections experts who arrived in Georgetown on January 25, as well as 14 experienced, long-term observers who were deployed on February 4 across the 10 regions to observe elections preparations.
He said that long-term observers are currently meeting with elections officials, candidates and representatives of civil society. They will report their observations back to the core team in Georgetown, which will contribute to the Mission’s “informed and impartial” assessment of the electoral process.
He added that before the elections day, the Mission will be reinforced by 20 short-term observers, who will observe voting, counting and tabulation of results. On elections day, the Mission will be joined by some locally-recruited, short-term observers from EU Member States and Diplomatic Missions accredited to Guyana. This, he said, will bring the total number of EU observers to more than 50.
Paet said that the Mission is independent, and EU observers will be bound to a strict code of conduct that will ensure “strict neutrality, impartiality” and noninterference in the electoral process.
The CO said that he hopes that the EOM’s presence will have a positive effect on reinforcing confidence in the process, and that it helps to deter any potential fraud, intimidation and violence.
“We are here to observe if the electoral process was conducted in a transparent and credible manner. We will assess the extent to which the elections are in compliance with the laws of Guyana as well as International and Regional commitments for democratic elections to which Guyana is a member.
Paet said that these commitments include the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination; the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women; the Convention against corruption; and the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.
The Mission will also access the legal framework, the voter and candidate registration, the campaigning environment, the elections preparations, and the role of civil society, and the role of the media.
Further, Paet said that the EOM will also access the neutrality and independence of the Judiciary and elections administration, as well as the transparency of elections operations including the tabulation and publication of results.
The EOM will also observe the opening of polling stations on elections day, the voting process, the counting of votes, the tabulation of results and any other elections complaint that arise on or after March 2.
The mission will issue a Preliminary Statement two days after the elections giving its initial assessment of the process up to that point.
“We call it ‘preliminary’ because the electoral process will most likely be far from over, and therefore it would not be possible to give a final, definite assessment of the whole process. A more comprehensive final report will be issued two or three months later,” he noted. This report, he said, will include recommendations for future elections.
Paet said that he has already met with the Attorney-General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams; Secretary-General of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR); and the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.
He said that meetings are also scheduled to be held with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Karen Cummings; the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (retired) Claudette Singh; and representatives of The Citizenship Initiative (TCI), and the Liberty and Justice Party (LJP).