Private sector to help police keep the peace during polls

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) has announced support for the police to ensure that the upcoming polls are peaceful, including a commitment to provide transportation and other resources to ranks and setting up an operations centre to monitor the electoral process.

This was disclosed on Tuesday during a PSC press briefing by Major General (rtd) Norman McLean, after a “fruitful” meeting with Police Commissioner Henry Greene and other senior police officers.

McLean said that during the November 17 meeting, the PSC was very impressed with the police force’s security plan for elections. “We were very satisfied when we left. We left with the feeling that the police were properly prepared and ready to discharge their duties fairly and impartially,” he added.

He noted that during the meeting the PSC made offers to help in any way possible and “some of the businesses are going to be giving the police assistance in terms of transportation and such other issues.” He said that PSC, which has been approved as an observer for the elections, will be establishing an operations centre which will be manned 24/7 starting from Sunday, “until everything is clear and we are satisfied that things are moving as they should be.”

McLean noted that the police indicated that there would be an increased presence on the streets and certain force offices would be closed down so that there is additional manpower available.

The Guyana Association of Private Security Organisations (GAPSO) is headed by McLean and he indicated that its ten to twelve thousand members are “also going to be eyes and ears” to report to the police to help ensure that their presence is effective on the road.

He explained that at the operations centre to be set up, official things will be put in place to guide the PSC communications personnel that will be on the ground monitoring what is taking place. He said like the last elections, the PSC will be fully prepared “if things go awry that we can call political leadership as well as the commissioner, the chief of staff and other persons who are important in ensuring that we have a very peaceful and a fearless operation for elections.”

PSC Chairman Ramesh Dookhoo said that the business community is looking for peace during the elections. He added that their message is that we want “a non-violent post-elections period; we are going to work as hard as possible to achieve that with the law enforcement agencies, the Government of Guyana and all the political parties.” Dookhoo noted that they have suggested to each party that a peace message be done on elections night to say to Guyana “we have fought a good fight, accept the results of the elections, let there be peace, then we would have achieved something.”

He said the PSC believes that there is going to be very peaceful elections, while stressing that the country has “matured.”

Dookhoo cast doubt that there will be an early declaration of results as is being suggested by some sections of the media. It was also said that it is not possible to get the ballot boxes from far flung areas to GECOM in such a short period of time. The media was urged not to “speculate on a limited number of results.”

According to Dookhoo, in some areas such as Region Eight and Nine, it is logistically impossible for the certified statements of poll from far flung areas to be delivered to the returning officer by the end of Elections Day.

GECOM, under the Act, he said is legally responsible for declaring elections results.

Dookhoo further noted that there is legal provision under the law for political parties to call for a recount of the ballots cast within the various districts if they are dissatisfied with the results. Any such call has to be made to the respective returning officer no later than noon on the day after the elections.

“Compliance with this legal provision clearly debars any returning officer from declaring the results for the elections in his/her district before midday on the day after elections,” he added.

He said that it is practically impossible for the results of the elections to be declared by midnight on election day.

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