Guyana vota a sus nuevas autoridades y Ramotar va por la reelección

Guyaneses eligen hoy en las urnas a nuevo Parlamento

Algo más de 570 mil guyaneses acuden hoy a las urnas para elegir los integrantes de una nueva Asamblea Nacional (Parlamento), así como a las autoridades de las 10 regiones administrativas en que se divide Guyana.

En las elecciones generales programadas para hoy por el actual presidente, Donald Ramotar, los electores escogerán entre los candidatos propuestos por el gobernante Partido Progresista del Pueblo (en el poder desde 1992), la coalición compuesta por las opositoras Alianza por el Cambio (AFC), la Alianza para la Unidad Nacional (APNU) y otros seis partidos minoritarios.

En las elecciones guyanesas, que se realizan cada cuatro años, puede votar todo ciudadano del país mayor de 18 años (de una población total de 801 194 habitantes, según datos de la ONU), así como los ciudadanos de cualquier otra nación de la Commonwealth residentes en Guyana.

Para el sufragio de hoy la Comisión Electoral (Gecom, por sus siglas en inglés) invitó a observadores de la Comunidad del Caribe, la Unión de Naciones Suramericanas, la Organización de Naciones Unidas, el Centro Carter, la Organización de Estados Americanos, la Mancomunidad de Naciones y de Surinam.

Los nuevos miembros de la Asamblea Nacional eligen posteriormente al Presidente del país entre las propuestas de cada Partido.

De manera adelantada a los comicios generales de este lunes, el pasado 2 de mayo más de siete mil 400 miembros de las Fuerzas Armadas, la Policía y otras instituciones de seguridad en Guyana ejercieron su derecho al voto.

Para la votación de ese día la Comisión Electoral habilitó urnas en 84 centros militares de todo el país.

Prensa Latina

Guyana goes to polls today

Guyanese will go to the polls today in General and Regional Elections.

Voters will decide between the incumbent People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the recently-formed People’s National Congress (PNC)-led A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition. There are several micro parties that are contesting the polls, but these have been written off as no real challenge to the two behemoths as it has been since the 1960s: PPP vs PNC.

A total of eight parties had been given the go-ahead by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to contest the polls: the PPP/C led by Donald Ramotar; the APNU+AFC led by retired Brigadier David Granger who is also leader of its overwhelmingly largest component, the PNC; The United Force (TUF) headed by Marissa Nadir; the United Republican Party (URP) with Vishnu Bandhu at the helm; the Independent Party (IP) led by Mark Benschop; Healing the Nation Theocracy Party (HTNTP) guided by Alfred Parks; the Organisation for the Victory of the People Party (OVPP) under the leadership of Gerald Pereira; and the National Independence Party (NIP) headed by Attorney-at-Law Saphier Subedar Hussain.

Based on their leaders’ comments, at least two parties will be contesting only the Regional Elections – HTNTP and OVPP. The battle as has been said is ultimately between the incumbent PPP/C, which has been in power for the past 23 years, and the Opposition coalition.

The PPP/C has based its campaign on its track record in office since it took over in the first free and fair elections of 1992 and inherited a country completely devastated.

It points to the many projects, programmes, policies and growth and development which have been implemented and recorded and the lives which have been transformed under its governance in moving Guyana from being a Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) to a Middle Income Country (MIC) that has more than one car for every four persons.

Granger is campaigning on his coalition’s platform under the slogan, “It is time”.
The smaller parties are simply hoping for votes which can give them at the least, a seat in the National Assembly for a say in the decision-making process.

GECOM prepared

Meanwhile, GECOM, which is a most critical body at this time, has assured stakeholders that it is fully prepared and ready to conduct “free, fair and credible” elections as scheduled. According to the elections body, notwithstanding some challenges, it has been able to achieve an almost perfect state of readiness for the efficient and transparent conduct of the polls, noting that all the necessary technical, administrative and logistical systems are in place in every district, and are functioning optimally, thus enhancing GECOM’s credibility.

Additionally, GECOM said that it has continuously been engaging its Election Day staff in a plethora of training exercises that have seen them constantly being trained, retrained, refresher trained, and further trained, in an effort to have all Polling Day staff fully prepared and ready for the professional and transparent conduct of the General and Regional Elections.

The elections body in a release said that the frequency of its training exercises are designed to mitigate all likely errors on Election Day, and well-trained and helpful personnel were being deployed in all of the 2299 polling stations across Guyana to work on Election Day – with the full understanding that the electors are their employers.

According to the Commission, polling stations comprise a variety of public buildings as well as some private residences, with the number of private residences at 166. The elections body said that with the help of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it has established a Media Centre to facilitate the efficient dissemination of official elections results to the media and the nation. It has strongly rebuffed late Opposition claims that the electors’ list was “dirty”.

Observer Missions

Meanwhile, a number of international and domestic election observers will be involved in the elections. As it stands, 14 domestic observers have been accredited with five International Observer Missions already in Guyana. Already the Anglican Diocese here as well as the Guyana Presbyterian Church and other religious bodies such as Hindu and Muslim organisations have called for peace to prevail in the country especially at this sensitive time. Elections here, over the years, have been marred by violence and already there have been incidents which have caused concern.

Results

In the meantime, GECOM has assured that it will ensure that the results of the elections are released in the soonest possible time. According to Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, providing all goes well on Election Day, the elections body will try to have the results available by Tuesday evening or by Wednesday morning.

President Donald Ramotar on January 20, 2015 announced the holding of General and Regional Elections for today, May 11, three months after he had prorogued the National Assembly, and only three years after he had been in office. Election was not constitutionally due until November 2016.

Guyana elects on national level a unicameral legislature (the National Assembly).The National Assembly has 65 members. Since 2001, the makeup of the National Assembly is as follows: 40 members are elected via proportional representation from 10 Geographic Constituencies and 25 members are chosen also on the basis of proportional representation from national lists named by the political parties. Prior to 2001, 53 members were elected for a five-year term by proportional representation and 12 members were delegated by local government councils. The President is elected for a five-year term on the basis of the parliamentary elections.

Guyana times

GECOM Chairman says Commission ‘fully prepared and ready’ –as Guyanese head to the polls today

GUYANESE and stakeholders in the electoral process were yesterday assured by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr Steve Surujbally, that the Commission is “fully prepared and ready” to conduct free, fair and credible elections.“I give you the assurance that the preparations for the General and Regional elections of 2015 have been thorough and all encompassing. The Guyana Elections Commission would like to assure all stakeholders that it is fully prepared and ready to conduct free and fair and credible elections,” he said in a message to the nation, televised by the National Communications Network (NCN).

The GECOM Chairman noted that a few challenges aside, the Commission has been able to achieve an “almost perfect state of readiness” for the efficient and transparent conduct of the May 11 polls.
“All the necessary technical, administrative and logistical systems are in place in every district; the entire production was planned and executed together with the political parties and their scrutinisers, who collaborated with us every step of the way,” he said, adding:

“Electors, you can rest assured that every aspect; every component relating to elections management has effectively and efficiently been carried by the competent and absolutely committed staff under the leadership of Mr Keith Lowenfield, GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) and under the guidance of GECOM’s commissioners; together, surely the most knowledgeable and experienced persons who have not only successfully managed several elections in Guyana, but who have shared their experience internationally. I call them the Elections A-plus Team.”

TRUST GECOM

Dr Surujbally also noted that all the plans and preparations that went into readying the systems for the 2015 polls were done in collaboration with a host of stakeholders, including political parties, the Private Sector Commission, Chambers of Commerce and religious bodies – and supported by international technical assessors.

“GECOM did not accomplish this alone; at every step of the way, as we attempted to hone our performance that could be equal to the standards associated with international best practice, all stakeholders were involved,” he said.

Consequently, he appealed to all Guyanese and stakeholders to “trust” GECOM.
“There are still some elements in our society who, for some reason, may want to cast some doubt or over-exaggerate some minor flaw found in some obscure aspect of the elections and the electoral process. They sidestep the essential and pounce on the irrelevant,” he said, adding: .

“All of this boils down to trust. Already. there is too much distrust on those who want to lead for the next five years. For me, the matter of trust is an either or position; the metaphoric black or white; either you trust GECOM or you distrust us. When you are coming to your conclusion on this question, that conclusion must not be arrived at emotionally or because someone, even someone who you respect, has tried to influence you, and you should not use the methodology of guesswork.”

He underscored the fact that trust in GECOM’s capability must be premised on ‘the real’.
“Your trust in the management capability of GECOM must stem from your empirical and your educated observation from your own experience with GECOM’s actions and achievements in the past from facts; facts which speak for themselves, and which can withstand any inquiry; from a performance which can withstand local and international scrutiny, which is the model for elections management bodies elsewhere,” he said.

According to him, all concerns raised after the Disciplined Services vote on May 2 have been addressed. “There are no hiccups that I can see right now; I know of none,” Dr Surujbally said.

POLLING STATIONS

Today, Guyanese voters will utilise 2,299 polling stations, the largest number of stations ever identified in Guyana, 166 of which are private residences.

“The political parties have received a list of the polling stations for the 2015 General and Regional elections,” the GECOM Chairman said, adding that no more than 400 electors are assigned per polling station.

TRAINING

On the question of preparation, Dr Surujbally detailed GECOM’s preparations, of which training was a major component.

He said, “GECOM has been continuously engaging its elections day staff in a plethora of training exercises that have seen them being trained, re-trained and refresher trained, as well as further trained, in an effort to have all polling day fully prepared and ready for professional and transparent conduct of the May 11 General and Regional elections. The intensity and frequently of GECOM’s training exercises are designed to mitigate all possible errors on Election Day. “

The GECOM Chairman stressed that Election Day staffers will be deployed with the “the full understanding” that electors are GECOM’s employers. “We were given the job to manage these elections and we will not fail you,” he said.

VOTER EDUCATION

Civic and voter was another key area of work and Dr Surujbally assured that every communication medium was being utilized to get its civic and voter education messages across to the respective targeted audiences.
“GECOM had conceptualized and has now introduced a rigorous civic and voter education campaign, the primary aim of which is to inform the electorate on everything that they need to know on the electoral process. This has been going on for some time now,” he said.

An advanced feature, according to him, was the use of sign language. “Such is the design of the civic and voter education programme that it also involves the use of sign language…with the help of the National Commission on Disabilities (NCD), GEOCM has been able to produce a stencil to allow visually impaired persons, an option – an option – to vote independent of assistance, thereby ensuring that their vote is secret and known to them alone. The secrecy of the ballot must remain sacrosanct,” Dr Surujbally said.
He added that GECOM produced and distributed 100,000 booklets voting public.

“We encourage you to peruse the information, as the answers to your questions lie therein,” he said, “GECOM’s website and hotlines have also been a major feature of its civic and voter education…this year we introduced speedy online access to identification of your polling stations. We have been heartened by the commendations on this initiative.”

WITHIN THE LAW

Dr Surujbally also made it clear that GECOM will conduct its activities within the framework of legal and constitutional provisions.

“We at GECOM would like to reassure all Guyanese and the international community of our commitment to do everything within the law, to conduct free, fair, credible, peaceful and a most perfect election,” he said.
As such, the GECOM Chairman urged that Guyanese be accepting of the official results and not engage in any activities not in the interest of Guyana.

“GECOM calls on all Guyanese, political parties and their followers and all other stakeholders to accept the results of these elections in good faith and not engage in activities that are inimical to the peri and post-electoral peace and tranquility,” he said.

MEDIA CENTRE

The dissemination of the preliminary results, Dr Surujbally explained, will be delivered to the Guyanese public via GECOM’s recently established media centre.

“GECOM, with the help of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has set up a media centre to facilitate the efficient dissemination of official election results to the media and to the public, even as the results come in from the field. We are very proud of this,” he said.

Prior to the declaration of the final results, the Centre will be disseminating preliminary data, and as they come in from the different polling stations and districts, with the aim of keeping the viewership informed as to what is happening in the ten districts across the spectrum. The data is expected to be updated every two hours, as information reached the Commission.
Dr Surujbally said, “We will not sacrifice accuracy of the election result on the altar of expediency.”

All considered, he reiterated that the Commission intends for today’s proceedings to be free, fair, transparent and credible.
“Vote for the political party of your choice, return to your home and wait patiently for the professional tallying, verification and dissemination of results,” the GECOM Chairman concluded.

Guyana Chronicle