Report on Guyana 2006 Elections ▪ The Carter Center
Recommendations and Issues to Be Addressed
The Carter Center hopes that the general conduct and peaceful atmosphere, largely free of violence and voter intimidation, that prevailed in the campaign, election, and post election period signal a significant step toward strengthening democratic institutions in Guyana.We commend GECOM for their efforts in carrying out a successful elections process.The Carter Center remains willing to support and strengthen democratic institutions in Guyana and, particularly, the electoral process. To this end, we recommend that GECOM and the government of Guyana work cooperatively to address the following issues. These observations and recommendations are not meant to be exhaustive but rather are intended to highlight issues that The Carter Center believes merit immediate attention:
1. The Voter Registry
GECOM should conduct a broadly acceptable verification of the voters list.
The conducting of a house-to-house verification is strongly recommended
because it is the most likely means of increasing voter confidence in the list.
2. Reforming GECOM
a. GECOM should be independent from the government and be accountable
to and receive funding from the National Assembly.
The independence of GECOM from the government’s administration will bolster the commission’s credibility and independence.
b. The Carter-Price formula for GECOM should be changed to ensure that GECOM is not divided solely along political lines.
i. GECOM should be composed of individuals who are solely committed to carrying out a successful and transparent elections process and who have the confidence of political parties, but can also maintain independence.
As noted in the Carter Center’s report on the 2001 elections, “As part of electoral reform efforts, Guyana should give careful consideration to alternative models, possibly reducing or eliminating political party representation and increasing the role of independent members of civil society and professional experts.”
ii. Gender representation should be ensured in GECOM’s composition.
c. Communication among GECOM, the political parties, civil society, and election observers needs to improve. This can be achieved through the establishment of a liaison office to coordinate communication with political parties, observer groups, and civil society. Such an office would need adequate staffing and funding.
i. GECOM’s transparency will be elevated by additional communication with these stakeholders and could easily be achieved through the publication of GECOM meeting minutes or a summary of such minutes.
ii. Improved communication will also strengthen the relationship between GECOM and domestic observer groups.
d. Ensure that appropriate legal remedies be exercised in considering challenges to the electoral results. In addition, new legislation should be debated that provides for correcting results, if evidence is later provided that errors were made in determining the composition of the National Assembly.
e. Speed up the reporting of the vote count. This might be achieved using electronic means to transmit preliminary results. Such means should be tested thoroughly before the next general elections and, if possible, during local government elections.
3. Local Elections
a. Local elections, granted sufficient and thorough preparations are completed, should be held before the end of 2007. GECOM and the government of Guyana should act with all deliberate speed to prepare for the elections.
b. GECOM should implement the expansive voter and civic education program as outlined in their 2001 recommendations immediately. GECOM should pay specific attention to ensuring that correct and consistent information is disseminated as it relates to elections and voting processes. For example, leading up to disciplined services voting, voter education ads showed that ballots would be stamped at the polling place on election day. This was true for general voting, not disciplined services,thus creating confusion.
c. The government of Guyana and GECOM should consolidate election laws
for the purpose of simplification, codification, and accessibility. As called for in GECOM’s 2003 Three- to Five-Year Development Plan, “The consolidation of the election laws, incorporating all the amendments hitherto made, in order to make it user friendly for all and sundry that have to apply them in their official capacities and also to make it more intelligible to those who want to know the extant laws in so far as they relate to parliamentary, regional and local government elections.”
d. Revitalize the Task Force on Local Government Reform.
i. Implement the agreed-upon recommendations of the Task Force on Local Government Reform.
ii. Finalize work of the Task Force on Local Government Reform on outstanding issues, specifically in the areas of allocating the greatest number of seats possible on a constituency/ward basis as well as in determining the overall system of local government and the formula for fiscal transfers.
iii. Consider contesting local elections on a nonparty basis. These recommendations have also been identified by fellow international observer groups including the OAS and the Commonwealth. The Carter Center recommends that GECOM closely review and consider the additional recommendations made by those organizations.
The Carter Center is willing to engage in subsequent conversations with GECOM to
expand upon these recommendations. The Center remains supportive of the government of Guyana as it continues to strengthen democracy through the development of democratic institutions and practices.
Crying foul ,14 years after the Carter Center recommendation ,Elections in Guyana is the same rhetoric.