International observers pivotal to free and fair elections

International observers pivotal to free and fair elections

Dear Editor,

On January 22 in a Stabroek News missive (`Ms Lawrence’s call will undermine electoral process and invite disturbances’) criticizing Ms. Volda Lawrence’s call for party supporters to work the “nightshift,” as groundwork for post-electoral trouble, I noted that the APNU+AFC coalition may not hesitate to intimidate or go after international elections observers.

“Other allegations will surface. Foreign election observers may be accused of meddling in Guyana’s affairs. It may be part of a plan to nullify the election result if need be.”

So said, so done. As is well documented now, on March 5, Guyana’s caretaker Foreign Affairs Minister threatened to revoke the accreditation of foreign observers. The observers rightfully refused to be intimidated by the customary strong-arm tactics of the APNU+AFC Coalition. Of course, that was not the end of it.

Just as night follows day, the subtle admonitions (see Ms. Lurlene Nestor, `Observers must take actions that heal the nation rather than divide it’) in yesterday’s SN continue, even by friends of the incumbent coalition. One trade unionist said that the observers are not the “arbiters” of Guyana’s elections.

The observers are not interested in being “arbiters” of our elections. One suspects that they are fully aware that there is an elections petition from 2015, representing what are now over 200,000 dead votes, still waiting for the native arbiters to show up.

Moreover, it is not for observers to “heal” the nation; rather, it is for PNCR politicians to comply with Guyana’s Election Laws, drop the proxies, and embrace electoral democracy including voting rights. The public, arguably, will oppose any suggestion by the PNCR in the future to amend laws to restrict the role of international observers.

These observers came here at the invitation of the people of Guyana, by way of the caretaker President. They have performed their task remarkably and their observations of the electoral process thus far is protected by the Election Laws of Guyana.

Guyana is unable to host elections on its own. Without international observers, there would be no free and fair elections in Guyana. Leave them alone.

Yours faithfully,

Rakesh Rampertab

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