Concerns relating to inflammatory campaign rhetoric and personal attacks by elements of the political leadership during the general elections campaign, are to form part of the contents of the final report and recommendations of the Commonwealth Elections Observer Mission.
At a Wednesday morning press briefing, Chairperson of the Mission Kate Wilkinson said the grouping is also concerned with incidents of bias reporting and the lack of fair access to all political parties on state-owned media.
She spoke of allegations of direct vote-buying and the misuse of state resources to induce voters. Wilkinson said if these allegations are true the Mission would be extremely disappointed.
The Mission, during its activities at Mondays’ polls, observed that portraits of the President, Prime Minister and Minister of Education were in full and prominent view in a significant number of schools. Wilkinson said she does not believe that these images placed the opposition parties at a large disadvantage during the voting process.
Responding to questions from the media, the Chairperson said too that the Commonwealth’s final report is likely to have recommendations urging the need for campaign financing legislation and for legislative reform that will see the declaration of results in the fastest possible time.
The Commonwealth Mission head also spoke about the long wait for the official elections results. Wilkinson said it would be preferred that the results are declared within hours of the close of polls but said the legislative provisions for the tabulation were understood.
“Concerns were raised about the margin of increase in the voter’s register since the last national and regional elections. We noted the official response from GECOM. The issue did not result in any political party or alliance abstaining from participating in the elections,” she added.
Wilkinson was flanked by other members of the Commonwealth team and presented the preliminary findings to the room of local and foreign journalist along with heads of missions of ABC countries in Guyana.
“We wish to congratulate the people of Guyana, who turned out early on elections day to exercise their franchise in a peaceful manner. We noted that the volume of voters at polling stations began to decline as the day progressed.”
The Mission said it received reports of isolated incidents of unrest but emphasized the speed and responsibility with which they were contained.
“We urge political parties, citizens and other stakeholders to continue to display the admirable restraint and patience they have so far exercised as they wait for official results from GECOM.”
The team will depart Guyana on Sunday but will prepare its final report of detailed findings before and hand it over to the authorities who the Commonwealth hopes will seriously consider and commit to their implementation. (Kurt Campbell)