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An election station in Guyana

Voting in Guyana ‘orderly and transparent’ but reforms needed, say Commonwealth observers

5 March 2020

The Commonwealth Observer Group to the Guyana General and Regional Elections has found that the polling on 2 March was “orderly and transparent”, while also highlighting the urgent need for reform.

In the Group’s interim statement, Owen Arthur, former Prime Minister of Barbados and Chairperson of the Group, commended the voters, who turned up in large numbers to exercise their franchise.

He indicated that polling stations were generally well-organised, with all the necessary materials and staff who carried out their duties with professionalism and diligence.

He said: “In our overall assessment, the opening of polls, voting and counting were largely conducted according to the prescribed procedures.”

Speaking to the press and diplomatic corps in Georgetown, Mr Arthur raised concerns about the late finalisation of polling station locations in Region 4 – Demerara-Mahaica, as well as the accessibility of some polling stations located on the upper floors of the buildings.

He also noted “several aspects of the polling, counting, results tabulation and transmission of results processes could be improved by clearer written instructions and illustrations for polling staff.”

However, the interim statement highlighted “the urgent need for constitutional and electoral reform to address what stakeholders view as a complex and multi-faceted polarisation of the nation”.

It added: “These divisions are reflected in the composition, structure and operations of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) itself. It is essential that electoral processes be fully inclusive of different political stakeholders and minority groups.”

Mr Arthur said that campaign finance laws needed to be revised, updated and implemented, and that political parties needed to “take stronger action to promote the genuine inclusion and political participation of women.”

Final results are yet to be released by the Guyana Elections Commission. Mr Arthur acknowledged that the people of Guyana have “demonstrated patience and commitment to their democracy,” and appealed to them to maintain the same commitment in the post-election period.

Read the full interim statement (PDF, 377 KB)