CARICOM Observer Team Says Polls Were “Free, Fair and Transparent”

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Chief of Mission, Combie Martyr

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 4, CMC – The CARICOM Election Observation Mission Wednesday said that the regional and general elections held here on Monday were “free, fair and transparent” and that it expects that the results “will reflect the free expression of the will and aspirations of the Guyanese people, for a government of their choice”.

Attorney Cynthia Combie Martyr, who headed the Mission, in the preliminary report released during a news conference here, also praised the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) “for a job reasonably well done as it relates to the conduct of the poll and poll activities on Polling Day, including the count and issue and presentation of Statements of Poll on Election Day”.

The 17 member Observation Mission, comprised nationals of Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad & Tobago.

Combie Martyr, the chairperson of the St. Lucia Electoral Commission, said that while the Mission visited approximately 360 of the 2,339 polling stations across this country.

She acknowledged that during the voting exercise on Monday “there were however minor issues which we identified, which were mostly resolved, and which in the Mission’s opinion, were not significant to materially affect the overall outcome of the poll.

“Polling was executed smoothly with acceptable delays relating to persons to whom oaths and declarations had to be administered by the Presiding Officers. Generally, a pleasant atmosphere of peace and calm amongst electors, with no sign of hostility amongst electors,” she said.

She said the Mission did not observe any incidents of violence and that while the polling stations met the GECOM standards in terms of general layout, the CARICOM Observers were concerned about the access ramps and other support structures to the polling stations for ‘’differently-abled’’ members of Guyanese society which were not always available.

She said also that the signage on polling stations and directions to electors, was not large enough and placement was such that the signs were not always easily visible.

“It was felt that this may have contributed to electors walking into the wrong stations and having to spend precious voting time relocating. With larger, clearer defined signage, this challenge could have been averted.”

Combie Martyr said as it relates to the conduct of voters, “the conduct of voters was remarkable, responsible, calm and orderly,” adding “the people of Guyana should be proud of themselves and this Mission salutes GECOM and the citizens of the country for the peaceful conduct of the poll”.

But she said that the CARICOM observers noted that poll workers were allowed to leave their respective stations to go and vote, “and there were times when poll workers were noticeably absent which could effectively and in some instances, slow down the polling process.

“In this regard, it is one of the recommendations of the CARICOM Observers that provision must be made to include poll workers in the advanced poll.”

She said that the CARICOM Election Observation Mission will await the publication of the final official results and will provide a full and final report comprising observations and findings of its detailed and objective assessment of the elections together with recommendations.

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