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–    Maintains there were no major irregularities The Carter Centre yesterday issued a comprehensive preliminary statement which focused on the May 11 General and Regional Elections and measures to ensure smoother future elections even as it maintained that there were no “major” irregularities.In that statement, the Centre called for reform of the elections commission, campaign financing laws and urged political parties in Guyana to reevaluate their structures as their leaders appear out of touch with Guyanese.The Centre also highlighted aspects of the voting process that were commendable as well as those which need improvements.In the area of voting, it was determined that there were no “major” irregularities, polling staff at stations observed were well-trained, and voting progressed with very few technical errors and in a manner that protected the integrity of the vote.As it zeroed in on the counting process, the Carter Centre said that its observers reported that ballot reconciliation and the completion of Statements of Polls (SoPs) generally adhered to procedures in polling stations visited, and party agents and citizen observers were invited to sign and receive copies of the results. However, the atmosphere during the counting period became anxious in some areas of the country, and several incidents were reported in Georgetown, where crowds gathered around polling stations, which contributed to a delay in the transfer of some electoral materials and processing of results.The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the police coordinated a response to facilitate the transfer of materials.RECOMMENDATIONS TO GECOMIn its recommendations to the GECOM, the Centre urged that complete data be made available as quickly as possible regarding results at the polling-station level.“This is a recognized international best practice that can enhance public confidence in the process and its outcome.”The observer mission also said that GECOM should seek to build confidence in the voters’ list.It suggested that GECOM, the registrar, and other departments of the government of Guyana should exchange accurate and complete information that will enable removal of the deceased from the voters’ list.  Also, GECOM was advised that it should take steps to allow an independent audit of the voters’ list.With regards to the tabulation process, the Carter Centre said that while it is thorough, the slow pace of the process creates a vacuum of information that fuels suspicion and mistrust.“Guyana should consider a full review of tabulation procedures,Cheap Soccer Jerseys, possibly including steps such as a double-blind data-entry system to enhance accuracy and confidence. Improved tabulation procedures and timely dissemination of information will increase trust in the overall process.”The observer mission said that future elections in Guyana should see improved accessibility for voters with disabilities, as many polling stations are difficult for voters with disabilities to access, requiring persons to navigate stairs, bridges, or narrow passageways.The Centre also said that GECOM should seek to ensure that citizens can cast their ballot in a neutral environment and move away from using private properties as polling stations.In addition, it was noted that GECOM needs to review its policy on access to information and on the openness of GECOM commissioners’ meetings.“Ideally these should be open to media and observers. In any case, agendas should be published well in advance and decisions should be made public.”RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNMENTThe Carter Centre also made a number of recommendations to the government. First on the list was the need for Election administration reform.The observer mission said that Guyana needs to consider reforms that would reduce the politicized composition of GECOM and move toward an election management body with a structure, composition,Jerseys NFL Wholesale, and operations that are more consistent with international good practice and obligations, ensuring the independence and impartiality of the election management body.Also, the Carter Centre said that there is a need for the consolidation of the electoral law.“The consolidation of existing electoral law, which at present has to be established across a plethora of legal instruments, would enhance both the clarity and the certainty of the legal rules. In addition, the laws of Guyana, including those that pertain to elections, should be made more readily available and easily accessible to citizens.”Further,Wholesale Cheap Jerseys, the Centre said that consideration should be given to electoral reform efforts that would ensure candidate placement on party lists is fixed, increasing the links between citizens and elected officials and strengthening Guyana’s democratic foundations. Consideration should also be given to ensuring that party lists are “zippered” so that women and men are listed alternately on the list.The observer mission also recommended that Guyana should reconsider the barring of independent candidates from standing for office,Wholesale Jerseys Free Shipping, “as it undermines international commitments on the freedom of association and the right to stand for elections. Consideration should be given to amending Article 156 of the constitution that gives political parties the power to remove a member of the National Assembly if they no longer support the party, which limits the freedom of association.”The Centre said that consideration should be given to ensuring that political party agents and domestic observers are able to play their critical roles in increasing the transparency of the electoral process without sacrificing their right to vote when they are stationed at polls where they are not on the voters’ list. To this end, it was recommended that reform should focus on allowing agents to vote in the polling stations where they are deployed.With regards to campaign financing, the Centre said that legislation should be established to introduce greater transparency into the sources of funding of political parties through reforms such as requiring disclosure of sources, “not just in the context of elections; establishing party finance regulations with clear,Wholesale NFL Jerseys China, rigorous, and enforceable regulations for reporting; requiring electoral contestants to make reports on their campaign expenditures publicly available, with strong penalties for those who do not comply with regulations. In addition, Guyana should consider establishing and enforcing realistic limits on campaign expenditures to help promote equity and avoid inequalities in access to resources, which undermine the democratic process.”The government was also asked to consider establishing a formal process for the registration and regulation of political parties to ensure greater transparency and integrity.The Carter Centre said that while a code of conduct for political parties exists, the timeframe for its execution does little to improve the overall campaign environment.“Unfortunately, the code of conduct was not signed until less than two weeks before Election Day, and more than two weeks after nomination day,Wholesale Authentic Jerseys, limiting its ability to play a role during the majority of the campaign period. In future elections, the Code of Conduct for Political Parties should be signed much earlier in the process, and it should include a clear and strong enforcement mechanism.”Further, it was noted that, “The distribution of electors per regional seat in the general elections is unequal. All districts deviate from the average of person-per-seat by more than 15 percent, a maximum advised by international best practice. The Carter Centre recommends that the parliament amend legislation to address inequalities in geographical constituencies to ensure greater respect for the obligation of equal suffrage. In any case, the apportionment of the seats to the regions should be based on the latest available population statistics.”RECOMMENDATIONS TO POLITICAL PARTIESThe Carter Centre said that Guyana “must move beyond divisive politics, and its parties must find a way to work together constructively for the good of the country. While the political system enables a vigilant and energetic opposition, there must be a level of strategic cooperation to ensure that the state can perform its basic functions and regular local government elections can be held. The institutions of the state should not be held hostage to continuing cycles of inter-party conflict.”The body also recommended that political parties reevaluate their structure to ensure that they are well positioned to play their role in representing their supporters in government. It said that political party leaders appear out of touch with many Guyanese, limiting the effectiveness of the political elite in representing Guyana’s citizenry.“All parties should strengthen their internal democracy and make their operating procedures more transparent.”Carter Centre staff and observers remain in Guyana and continue to consult with stakeholders and observe the post-election environment.Image saved as Carter
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