Notre Dame professor appointed electoral expert

Stabroek News
March 5, 2000

The Oversight Committee on constitution reform on Friday approved the appointment of Assistant Professor Andrew Stephen Reynolds of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, USA, as its expert on electoral systems.

Prof Reynolds is expected to arrive here on March 9, and will be advising the task force established by the committee and assigned responsibility for preparing drafting briefs on the constitutional provisions related to the electoral arrangements. The briefs will be based on the recommendations of the Constitution Reform Commission (CRC) and approved by the Special Select Committee to which they were referred by the National Assembly.

The recommendations cover the appointment of the leader of the opposition, the office to replace that of minority leader as currently obtains, and the required amendments necessary to be made at the same time as those for the other electoral arrangements.

Prof Reynolds is expected to remain in Guyana for a few days on his initial visit, which is being sponsored by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the payment for his services is likely to be picked up under an arrangement between the NDI and the United Nations Development Programme.

Prof Reynolds was selected from a list of five experts on electoral systems which was submitted by the National Democratic Institute following a request from the committee for assistance in identifying a suitable person.

Prof Reynolds holds a first degree in political science from the University of East Anglia, UK in 1998; a second degree in South African Politics from the University of Capetown, South Africa in 1992; and a doctorate in Political Science from the University of California in 1996.

He has worked between 1996-97 as a Programme and Research Officer with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance with responsibility for among other things electoral system design, voter turnout, and conflict resolution.

He has worked too in 1997 with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe as an expert consultant on power sharing to its High Commission on Minorities in Eastern Europe, and in 1995 as an adviser to the Interim National Elections Commission of Sierra Leone.

He has been very involved between 1991-1998 in the constitution reform process in South Africa as an adviser to political parties and members of the Constituent Assembly in South Africa on electoral system design and to the Gender Commission on the representation of women. Before that he was associated in 1988 with Charter 88 during the constitution reform exercise in the United Kingdom.

In the meantime, the committee has set tomorrow for the submission of comments on the drafting briefs prepared by the task force which Prof Reynolds will be advising on the proposed amendments for the establishment of the Elections Commission and the election of a Leader of the Opposition.

These amendments to the constitution are being fast tracked to allow for the establishment of an Elections Commission to begin preparation for general elections legislatively mandated to be held by January 17, 2001. The amended provisions will be incorporated in the revised constitution.

Andrew Ellis and Luc Zwanepoel, members of the Needs Assessment Mission being funded by the European Commission to determine the forms of assistance that would be necessary to deliver an efficient, fair and transparent elections were also at Friday's meeting. The mission is being funded out of the National Indicative Programme under the Lome IV Convention and is being conducted at the request of the Guyana government.

The first draft of their report is to be handed in to the government by Tuesday.

The team has held discussions with committee chairman, Moses Nagamootoo, who has briefed it on the areas critical to the fast-tracking of the electoral process arrangements.