BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Apr. 9, 2015–Opposition Senator Lisa Shoman, who has also served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador for Belize, will lead a mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) to observe the May 11, 2015 elections in Guyana.
Shoman, who is also a senior attorney in Belize, told us today that this will be the OAS’s 5th mission to observe elections in Guyana. The OAS observed elections in Guyana in 1997, 2001, 2006 and 2011.
Shoman told us that this is the second time she is getting to serve as chief for this type of OAS mission. According to Shoman, back in 2001, she was Chief of Mission for the OAS’s election observer mission in Jamaica.
“This one is going to be quite big, because it’s not only the election for presidency, but there are several other races at stake,” Shoman said.
According to the OAS, in Guyana’s general elections of May 11, voters will elect 65 representatives of the National Assembly and members of the 10 regional democratic councils, as well as the president of the country.
The OAS mission will be deployed approximately one week prior to the elections, and Shoman told us that she is looking forward to going and being a part of that.
As early as next week, though, she heads off to Guyana for a pre-mission visit, which should span three days, with a team from the OAS Secretariat in Washington.
She explained that there is an entire department at the OAS which monitors elections, and they will put together a technical team for the mission.
While in Guyana next week, the team will be talking with stakeholders as well as members of the Guyana Elections Commission. Afterwards, they will file a preliminary report on the readiness of the country to hold the elections. The electoral mission of the OAS should return to Guyana on May 5 for elections slated for May 11, after which they will prepare a final report.
As Chief of Mission for the Electoral Observation Mission, Shoman will lead a team of foreign and in-country observers, who will be dispatched to the polls in small groups. Together with the technical team of the OAS they will make decisions on how those observers will be deployed.
Yesterday, Wednesday, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, and the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the OAS, Bayney Karran, signed the agreement for the 5th Electoral Observation Mission to Guyana.
The signing happened in Panama City, in advance of the Seventh Summit of the Americas, slated for this weekend.
Insulza said that, “this will be a very good moment for Guyanese democracy.”
He expressed his conviction that, “as always, the government of Guyana will give the Mission all the facilities they need to do their job well.”
“This election that is about to take place on May 11 is going to be a very pivotal election in Guyana, and will have far reaching consequences for the governance of the country irrespective of the result,” said Ambassador Karran, who added that “this makes the role of the Mission much more important.”
This week, the United States also announced that it is providing US$300,000 to fund local and hemispheric observers, and to support the monitoring programmes of the OAS and the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) of Guyana, for that country’s May 11 vote.