Subsequent to Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo falling ill and being taken to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation on March 4, 2020, Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers instituted a limit on the number of party agents and observers permitted in the tabulation. This is the contention of Rosalinda Rasul, who was among the observers who overlooked the electoral proceedings two years ago.
Rosalinda Rasul, who served as an elections observer for the American Chamber of Commerce Guyana (AmCham) for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, told commissioners of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on Monday, that even though there were no restrictions on the number of observers allowed into the tabulation room at the Ashmins Building to witness the processing of Statements of Polls (SOPs), Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers subsequently announced that a maximum of three agents from the political parties that contested the elections and two observers would be permitted in the room.
At the time the process had stopped and persons were awaiting the Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo to resume the tabulation process. Rasul chronicled that Myers, moments later, informed everyone that Mingo had fallen ill and that only three persons per political party would be allowed in the room. Further, Rasul alleged that at that point of the Myers’ announcement there was no indication that a limit would apply to the number of observers per mission permitted to be in the room. However, that subsequently changed, and upon her inquiring, she learned that only two observers were allowed.
The reduction in the number of persons allowed in the room, according to Rasul was on account to staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) feeling threatened.
“At that point, she claimed the GECOM staff felt threatened by the number of people in the room,” she said.
Observers had free access to the room, and prior to Myers’ announcement, an estimated five to six observers from each mission were permitted to overlook the tabulation process.
Rasul added that following the announcement she remained in the room with some of GECOM’s staff but did not hear any use of threatening language towards them.
“No one said anything, in fact, the party agents were busy trying to figure out why the tabulation was not starting, and the observers were just simply there waiting for the process to start, but there was very little interface between the party agents, the observers, and GECOM’s staff,” Rasul divulged.
Earlier this year, President Irfaan Ali announced that a commission of inquiry, headed by Justice of the Appeal (retired) of Turks and Caicos, Stanley John, has been set up to investigate the weaknesses of Guyana’s electoral systems, as well as malpractices, and recommend ways the country can improve.
Hearings started on November 11 and, after a brief hiatus, will continue throughout this week.