Jason Carter, chairman of The Carter Center board, in Guyana on March 2 observing the country's elections. On March 20, citing instability in the election process, the Carter Center pulled out of the country.

Coronavirus, absence of election process, force Carter Center observers out of Guyana

After several weeks of observing the electoral process in Guyana, the Carter Center is pulling out of the South American country. 

The center, which was founded by former president Jimmy Carter, has withdrawn its electoral experts and international observers from Guyana after weighing a combination of factors, “including the absence of an ongoing electoral process, increasing restrictions on international travel because of COVID-19, and the decline in the security environment in Guyana.” 

Carter Center observers had been in Guyana since January as a nonpartisan international election observation team at the invitation of the government. 

 

“The center remains committed to promoting democracy and constitutional reform in Guyana and is willing to return when the electoral process resumes, assuming international travel is feasible,” the Carter Center said in a statement.

Officials noted that the March 2 election process was “well-administered and reflected international standards for democratic elections.” 

The process was sound in at least nine of the country’s 10 regions. But, in the country’s largest region, the credibility of the tabulation process deteriorated when, after some delay, results were announced before the region’s full results were transparently tabulated in the presence of party observers. 

“The environment at the … office where the tabulation was being conducted for Region 4 was at times chaotic because of the large number of persons present and the efforts…. to disrupt the declaration of results,” the center said. 

Former President Jimmy Carter witnesses ballot counting by lamplight at a polling station in Liberia during the Carter Center's observation of presidential elections on Oct. 11, 2005. (The Carter Center)
Photo: The Carter Center/Deborah Hakes/TCC

“International observers have been harassed, and protestors supportive of the APNU+AFC coalition have at times blocked international observers from doing their work. Specific threats have also been made against the international community that are unacceptable and further undermine the credibility of the electoral process.” 

The Carter Center has monitored more than 100 elections in Africa, Latin America, and Asia since 1989.

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