Caribbean social justice NGOs emphasise right to free and fair elections here

Caribbean social justice NGOs emphasise right to free and fair elections here

A group of Caribbean NGOs have iterated their support for Guyanese to enjoy a free, fair and democratic system of election that expresses the will of the people and have also posited the need for a more inclusionary process of government going forward.

In a press release yesterday, the five NGOs: Caribbean Asso-ciation for Feminist Research and Action, Trinidad and Tobago (CAFRA TT); Hindu Women’s Organisation (HWO); Network of Rural Women Producers, Trinidad and Tobago (NRWPTT); Women’s Institute for Alternative Development (WINAD); and Women’s Re-source and Outreach Centre (WROC), congratulated the people of Guyana for the “admir-able” restraint shown since the March 2 polls.

The group noted that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government have been closely engaged in monitoring these elections and have lent the weight of their collective voices and expertise to ending the impasse and having a credible and valid result declared.

It reminded that a CARICOM election observer mission had observed the recounting of the ballots, found that it was conducted with as much precision as possible and reported that, “There was absolutely no hint of bias shown on the part of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) station workers. Their impartiality with respect to the actual vote recount was outstanding.” It added that the mission concluded that the counting of the vote was indeed transparent, and that the recount results were acceptable and should constitute the basis of the declaration of the results of the elections.

Accordingly, the group stated, “We, Caribbean organisations working for gender equality and social justice, add our voices in solidarity with the people of Guyana. We reaffirm the Charter of Civil Society for the Caribbean Community (1997), the compact made between civil society and CARICOM member states.” It was pointed out that the preamble of the Charter, still relevant today, affirms: the right of people to make political choices; to create a truly participatory political environment within the Caribbean Community; and to promote, foster and maintain racial harmony. It added that Article 6 of the Charter states that, “States shall ensure the existence of a fair and open democratic system through the holding of free elections at reasonable intervals, by secret ballot, underpinned by an electoral system in which all can have confidence and which will ensure the free expression of the will of the people in the choice of their representatives.”

The NGOs stated that they were “… encouraged by the clear view that our CARICOM leaders, led by Prime Minister Mia Mottley, have of their collective Caribbean Community responsibilities.” They added that they support the political rights of the people of Guyana, which includes the right to free and fair elections. “Any revocation of the free expression of the will of the people in the choice of their representatives must not be tolerated.”

The group has noted that currently, post-elections Guyana is a “deeply polarised” society with partisan political party/race divides that hurt everyone. And while the group believes that a free, fair, credible and transparent elections result is necessary, it emphasised the  imperativeness of an an inclusionary process, with all political parties and civil society having a seat at the decision-making table, so as to effect meaningful, way-forward dialogue for Guyana as a whole.

This viewpoint, the NGOs feel, is in keeping with the Guyana Constitution, Article 13: Chapter II – Principles and Bases of the Political, Economic and Social System, which states that: “The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens and their organisations, in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”

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