With Guyana’s next General and Regional Elections just two years away, the US is urging the country to take the necessary steps to strengthen its electoral system and build on existing infrastructure to ensure that the country’s electoral process remains free and fair.
Outgoing US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch during her final press conference with the local media today at the Herdmanston Lodge, said based on information received, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is currently complying a report on Elections in Guyana with the hope of tabling a number of recommendations.
She said Guyanese must examine those and other recommendations that were tabled subsequent to the 2020 General Elections, which were engulfed in controversy, and act in the best interest of the country.
“The electoral process is critical to a strong democracy, so I would advise the people of Guyana, the Government, all parties to look at those recommendations very closely, look at the recommendations that were made after the 2020 Elections to see what really stands out, what things can be worked on now. You don’t want to wait until the last minute, until it is a month before the elections,” Ambassador Lynch said.
Noting that some recommendations may take time to implement, the US Ambassador stressed the importance of acting on them now. She cited the need for future polling stations to be properly equipped to accommodate and facilitate persons with disabilities.
She also said the country must continue to explore tools that would strengthen the electoral process. The Opposition has been pushing for the use of biometrics at polling stations, however the Chairman of the Elections Commission, has said that constitutional reform would first be required to facilitate the use of such technology at polling places.
“I think many nations now are exploring biometrics as one additional tool that they could use to ensure that elections are free and fair. So, I don’t know what the final decision will be but I think it is important to explore all tools that Guyana has access too, in order to again, ensure that elections continue to be free and fair,” the Ambassador said.
Last December, the National Assembly approved several amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act to address gaps and improve transparency in the electoral system.
However, the Opposition has been pushing for the country to revamp the Voters’ List on the basis that is bloated. International Observers have also called for the implementation of laws to address campaign finance and the use of state resources including the state media.