UN of­fice work­ing with GECOM Chair on elec­toral aid -rep

Stabroek News Sunday - - REGIONAL NEWS -

The United Na­tions Res­i­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive here, Mikiko Tanaka, says she is work­ing with Guyana Elec­tions Com­mis­sion (GECOM) Chair­man James Pat­ter­son to pro­vide elec­toral aid, which had been re­quested for lo­cal govern­ment elec­tions.

Tanaka’s state­ment to Sun­day Stabroek came in the wake of con­cerns that there had been a stand­off be­tween Pat­ter­son and the UN of­fice over the aid. It also came fol­low­ing a state­ment last week by GECOM Com­mis­sioner Des­mond Trot­man that the UN of­fice had vi­o­lated es­tab­lished pro­to­cols in re­la­tion to the elec­toral aid.

Tanaka, in an in­vited com­ment on the is­sues raised by Trot­man, said “GECOM is an im­por­tant in­sti­tu­tion that safe­guards democ­racy in Guyana. The UN is work­ing with the Chair­man to pro­vide the sup­port he has re­quested.”

At GECOM’s Oc­to­ber 10th press con­fer­ence, when asked about an up­date on the UN’s of­fer, Pat­ter­son ad­mit­ted that there was some dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the way some things were han­dled. Though he did not elab­o­rate, he had said, “It is be­ing re­filed. There are still talks go­ing on. The com­mis­sion was not sat­is­fied, quite, about the way in which it was han­dled. That as­pect is be­ing re­filed. The process is still on.”

In a let­ter pub­lished in the Oc­to­ber 23rd edi­tion of Stabroek News, Trot­man said he ap­plauded the ac­tions of the GECOM Chair­man “in re­spect of the con­temp­tu­ous be­hav­iour of the UNDP’s Res­i­dent Rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Guyana, on the mat­ter of an as­pect of aid to im­prove the func­tion­ing of the IT (In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy) depart­ment of GECOM.”

Asked what he meant by “con­temp­tu­ous be­hav­iour,” Trot­man said, “There are laid down ar­range­ments on how aid should be ad­dressed. The UNDP did not do that.”

The UNDP was sup­posed to, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with GECOM, work out the terms of ref­er­ence of the of­fer, he said, “but in­stead the UNDP did the terms of ref­er­ence on its own, went out to ten­der and in­vited ap­pli­cants and was mov­ing to hire that per­son with­out even any ref­er­ence to the com­mis­sion.”

When it was brought to GECOM’s at­ten­tion that the UNDP had gone ahead with the process with­out en­gag­ing the com­mis­sion, Trot­man said, “A num­ber of us on the com­mis­sion felt that UNDP had abused the process.”

What the UNDP did, he said, was dic­tated the terms which was un­ac­cept­able.

“The vi­o­la­tions of the ex­ist­ing pro­to­cols on how these mat­ters should be dis­cussed is an in­di­ca­tion that the UNDP was con­temp­tu­ous of both the chair­man and the com­mis­sion,” he said.

Pat­ter­son, by not at­tend­ing a meeting with the UNDP’s of­fi­cial on the aid of­fer, Trot­man said, sought to dig­nify not him­self but the com­mis­sion and the com­mis­sion­ers.

While some of the com­mis­sion­ers would say they agreed with what the UNDP did, Trot­man said, he felt the process was abused and was dis­re­spect­ful of the GECOM in gen­eral.

The cur­rent sta­tus of talks be­tween the par­ties was not for him to dis­cuss, he said, but he only raised the mat­ter af­ter it was put in the pub­lic do­main by the Op­po­si­tion-nom­i­nated com­mis­sion­ers, who in­stead of show­ing sol­i­dar­ity with the Chair­man on the is­sue, sub­jected him to “un­de­served crit­i­cism.”

The aid of­fered by the UNDP was in re­sponse to a GECOM’s re­quest for UN tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance to aid in voter reg­is­tra­tion and the gen­eral elec­tions process in 2019 and 2020.

A United Na­tions Needs As­sess­ment Mis­sion (NAM) con­ducted in May had rec­om­mended that pri­or­ity area of as­sis­tance should in­clude data­base man­age­ment, sys­tems de­sign, soft­ware de­vel­op­ment to im­prove the in­tegrity of GECOM’s data­base, in­clud­ing voter reg­is­tra­tion and a solid re­sults trans­mis­sion sys­tem.

The NAM’s re­port rec­om­mended that the UN should pro­vide a co­or­di­na­tion mech­a­nism for mem­bers of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity to en­sure co­her­ence and avoid du­pli­ca­tion of any po­ten­tial sup­port to the 2018 Lo­cal Govern­ment Elec­tions and the 2020 Gen­eral Elec­tions.

James Pat­ter­son

Mikiko Tanaka

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