Carter Centre raps divisive election campaign in Guyana

Thursday, May 07, 2015

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) -- The Carter Center says Guyana's electoral preparations appear to be on track, even as it expressed deep concern about divisive campaign rhetoric ahead of the May 11 polls.

Since April, The Carter Center has deployed a team of five experts and six medium-term observers throughout the Caribbean Community (Caricom) country to observe preparations for the elections.

They have conducted observation in all 10 of Guyana's electoral districts and held meetings with a wide range of stakeholders, including political parties, the election commission, civil society organisations, and the judiciary.

The Carter Center said that although their observation is ongoing, medium-term observers have reported that the majority of stakeholders in the regions have expressed confidence in the Guyana Elections Commission and the electoral process.

"In most parts of the country, electoral preparations appear to be on course and in some areas preparations are ahead of schedule. In some more remote areas, there are concerns about the status of logistical preparations."

The mission said that its observers heard many allegations of electoral offences being committed by supporters of both of the main political parties, the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic and the coalition alliance of A Partnership for National Unity and the Alliance for Change.

"These were principally about the destruction of flags, banners and billboards. However, the team encountered very few formal complaints submitted to police and to the election commission."

But the Carter Center said it "is deeply concerned about the provocative rhetoric in the campaign and condemned any attempt to sow fear and distrust among Guyana's ethnic groups or to undermine confidence in its electoral process and institutions".

"It is imperative that political parties remain conscious of their obligations under the Political Party Code of Conduct for these elections and urge their supporters to behave accordingly.

"As election day approaches, the Carter Center encourages all Guyanese to make their strongest efforts to promote a peaceful and transparent electoral process. These elections are an important opportunity for Guyanese to strengthen their commitment to one another and further consolidate their democracy," said a statement from the election observer mission.

The medium-term observation team will be joined this week by more than 50 short-term observers from 24 countries. The delegation will be co-led by former US President Jimmy Carter, Ambassador Audrey Glover of the United Kingdom, and former Barbados Minister of Foreign Affairs Billie Miller.

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