Local observers continuing to do their work

Local observers continuing to do their work

Dear Editor,

The departure of foreign observers and the inhibition of their return by the pandemic virus has made it incumbent on me and other local observers to continue our work here more urgently.

Last Tuesday evening I went to observe the ballot box containers in GECOM at High and Cowan streets. I took along my binoculars, but they were not necessary, as the police on duty at the barricades readily allowed me to pass. They were all courteous.

There were three groups of watchers. Two were in Cowan Street: one east and one west of the barricades. I parked near the eastern one and discovered they were a multi-party grouping, some with the ‘Guardians of Democracy’ shirts. The western one had more people, and more wearing the ‘Guardians of Democracy’ shirts. The third group was in High Street on the pavement in front of the Ministry of Finance parking lot. They were identified as APNU/AFC from the sign hanging from their red shed.

I walked around, visited each group thrice, and encountered civility at all times except on the third occasion I visited the APNU/AFC group. That group had hitherto consisted of elderly ladies and gentlemen, with a few children, but on this occasion they were joined by younger comrades. They asked loudly what I was doing here. When I replied, showed my observer badge and proffered my card, they said they didn’t care who I was, that I had no business here, and that I should go back over there, pointing to the eastern Cowan St group, from where I had come from my second visit there. This rejection was done with tirades of obscenities, without demur from the elders present. So I left them without saying anything further. The Cowan St groups accepted my cards.

The loss of my national ID card shortly before election day caused me to visit my nearest GECOM branch office to apply for a replacement in my capacity as a citizen, not an election observer. I was not allowed in by the security guard after she consulted with the staff in the building, during the first week after elections. I checked every subsequent week, but the answer was the same: they are not doing ID cards at the moment and cannot say when the service would resume. On the second occasion a helpful staffer gave me a telephone number to call that office. This begs the question of what they are being paid to do.

Yours faithfully,

Alfred Bhulai

Local election observer

Transparency Institute Guyana

Inc. (TIGI)

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