GEORGETOWN, Guyana, December 19, 2019 (CMC) – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), yesterday, named the two senior Commonwealth advisors, who will be arriving, here, in early January next year, to observe the preparations and conduct of the March 2 general elections.
GECOM chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, told a news conference that the former Chairman of the Ghana Electoral Commission, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, and former Chief Elections Commissioner of India, Dr. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi, will provide support to GECOM.
Afari-Gyan is a Ghanaian academic, political scientist and election administrator, who also served as Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana, from 1993 to 2015.
Zaidi served as Chief Elections Commissioner of India for five years, from 2012 to 2017, and previously served as a diplomat and Director General of the 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,” Singh said.
Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, told reporters 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,” Lowenfield added.
GECOM said that in addition, 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.
In October, GECOM announced that Jean-Pierre Kingsley, who served as Canada’s Chief Electoral Officer for 17 years, will be providing technical electoral aid to Singh.
Kingsley will also be available for consultation and is expected to arrive, here, in January. His assistance is being funded by the Canadian High Commission and will cover the period between October to March.
Lowenfield also said that GECOM has received submissions from several organisations, interested in becoming election observers, and that the matter will be discussed, early next year.
They include the American Chamber of Commerce in 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 observers and submit to us, in writing, on or before December 31.”
A number of political parties are expected to contest the election, which political observers say would, in the end, be a straight fight between the ruling coalition government of President David Granger — A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance For Change (AFC) — and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).