Two senior Commonwealth advisors will be joining the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in early January to observe the preparations and conduct of the March 2020 general elections.
Chairperson of the GECOM Retired Justice Claudette Singh made the disclosure today during a press conference.
The two advisors are former Chairman of the Ghana Electoral Commission Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and former Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi
Afari-Gyan is a Ghanaian academic, political scientist and election administrator. He was Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana from 1993 to 2015.
On the other hand, Zaidi served as Chief Elections Commissioner of India for five years between 2012 to 2017. He previously served as a diplomat and Director General of Civil Aviation of India.
“These two gentlemen will be here from early January…those persons would be advisors to me and the Commission as a whole and they will also oversee the elections,” the GECOM official said.
Meanwhile, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield also disclosed that through the United States Embassy, the International Republic Institute (IRI) will be providing technical support to GECOM.
The institute will be working with GECOM to develop a Civic and Voter Education package. Both parties have met and GECOM has outlined certain conditions for the development of the item.
“I am advised that their civic and voter education package should commence in January,” he added.
Further, two Jamaican nationals will also form part of the IRI team that will be providing technical support to the Commission in the preparation of this document, among others.
Only in October, GECOM had announced that Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who served as Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer for 17 years, will be providing technical electoral aid to the Chair.
Kingsley will be available for consultation and is expected to join the others in January. His assistance is being funded by the Canadian High Commission and will cover the period between October to March.
The Chief Elections Officer also said that GECOM has received submissions from several organisations interested in becoming election observers.
This matter will be deliberated by the Commission next year.
These are the American Chamber of Commerce, Guyana, Private Sector Commission, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU).
“I have been advised to indicate that all civil society groups who have an interest should indicate their willingness to be local observes and submit to us in writing on or before December 31.”
A European Union (EU) team has also indicated that they are prepared to mount an observer mission here too.