PPP urges review of GPSU elections observer status

-after executive’s reported endorsement of opposition candidate

The PPP has urged the Guyana Elections Commis-sion (GECOM) to review the appointment of the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) as an observer group for the upcoming elections, saying a union executive’s apparent endorsement of an opposition candidate makes it unsuitable.

“We await GECOM’s response and determination of the matter,” PPP/C campaign manager Robert Persaud told Stabroek News yesterday. Persaud said the party brought the issue to GECOM’s attention with the hope that it would engage the GPSU to determine whether General Secretary Deborah  Murphy was speaking on her own behalf or on behalf of the union.

He added that he had also copied the letter to GPSU President Patrick Yarde and that the union is aware of the situation. GECOM, Stabroek News was told, is to write the union to seek a clarification of the issue since the Terms of Reference for local observers requires that organisations, their officials and their proposed electoral observers be impartial and non-partisan. Despite several attempts, Stabroek News was unable to contact GPSU officials for a comment on the situation.

Persaud wrote GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally on Thursday, pointing out a newspaper report in which GPSU General Secretary Deborah Murphy is quoted as describing APNU candidate David Granger as “our David Granger,” while referring to the administration as “the government.”

The statements were made at the GPSU’s 19th Biennial Delegates’ Conference at the National Cultural Centre on Wednesday September 28. Persaud added that Murphy’s “proclamations and enthusiasm” for Granger’s candidacy reflected the attitude of the general membership of the GPSU to the extent that Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who spoke at the conference, was heckled openly during his address.

“We believe that the point has been made that the GPSU is unsuitable to function as an independent observer at the general and regional elections,” he said, while noting that the union had been granted observer status by GECOM.  “The positions are clearly incongruous and we therefore urge that the Commission reviews its earlier decision to accredit the GPSU,” he added.

The GPSU and the Electoral Assistance Bureau (EAB) are the only local observers for the elections. GECOM can grant observer status to any group that is “manifestly non-partisan” and may revoke the accreditation where it satisfied that the group or any of its members is partisan, according to the Terms of Reference for local observers. “A firm commitment that the organisations, its officials and proposed election observers are impartial and non-partisan, in terms of political contestants and political issues and views throughout the election period,” is among the conditions imposed by GECOM on local observers.