Elections donor support awaits establishment of commission

Stabroek News
April 14, 2000

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which will govern the provision of US$3 million to US$5 million in financial and technical assistance for the upcoming elections will not be signed until the Elections Commission has been established.

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2000, which paved the way for its establishment was unanimously approved by the National Assembly on Monday and assented to by Prime Minister, Samuel Hinds, who is performing the duties of president, while President Bharrat Jagdeo is in Cuba attending the South Summit.

A member of the European Delegation to Guyana told Stabroek News that the Guyana Government, the Elections Commission, and the donor community would be signatories to the agreement. However, the official said that the political parties would be required to commit to the provisions of the MOU even though they are not signatories to it.

It is believed that among the methods being looked at to secure this commitment is the passage of a motion in the National Assembly, which the parties would be expected to unanimously support.

Some provisions of the memorandum call for the elections to be held according to internationally accepted standards and for the parties contesting the elections to agree to accept the results if they are held in conformity with these standards.

Other provisions require the Elections Commission to be independent, solely responsible for supervision and conduct of the elections and able to postpone them to facilitate the preparations which have to be implemented according to internationally accepted standards.

Meanwhile, Stabroek News understands that no date has yet been set for the meeting to elect the leader of the opposition. PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte, who is tipped to fill this post, is out of the country and sources close to the party said that he was expected back by weekend.

Hoyte had refused to take up the office of Minority Leader, the appointment to which, before the office was redesignated, was made by the President.

The election of the leader of the opposition was one of the provisions of the Bill which amended the Constitution to allow for the person to be so designated to be elected by the opposition members of Parliament rather than by being appointed by the President.

Once elected, the leader of the opposition would then be required to submit a list of six names not unacceptable to the President from which he would select a chairman.