News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mon. May 11, 2015: Some 570,000 registered voters are set to head to the polls today in the South American CARICOM nation of Guyana to elect a new government.
Some 2,299 polling stations are set to open at 6 a.m. today and close at 6 pm local time for the hotly contested election, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said.
For the first time in recent years, a Coalition comprising of six parties – the Alliance For Change (AFC); Guyana Action Party (GAP); Justice For All Party (JFAP); National Front Alliance (NFA); People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and the Working People’s Alliance (WPA) will content the election against the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) led by President Donald Romotar.
Experts say it marks a shift from years of ethnic divide in a country where the predominant race groups are Indo-and Afro-Guyanese. The PPP/C insists they have changed Guyana for the better and are running under the slogan: “Living the Change.” The APNU/AFC is running under the slogan “It is time for Change. It is time for Unity” with former Army General David Granger as the presidential candidate and AFC’s Moses Nagamootoo as the prime ministerial candidate.
Executive authority in Guyana is exercised by the president, who appoints and supervises the prime minister and other ministers. The president is not directly elected but each party presenting a slate of candidates for the assembly must designate in advance a leader who will become president if that party receives the largest number of votes.
The president has the authority to dissolve the parliament, but in contrast to a parliamentary regime, the Constitution of Guyana does not provide any mechanism for parliament to replace the president during his or her term of office, except in case of mental incapacity or gross constitutional violations. Legislative power of Guyana rests in a unicameral National Assembly.
There are several international observers in the country to observe today’s election including from the Commonwealth, the Organization of American States, CARICOM and the Carter Center.
Unfortunately, President Jimmy Carter, 90, will not be in Guyana today to observe the election. The Carter Center yesterday said the former US President “was not feeling well and has departed Guyana to return to Atlanta” Sunday.
The Carter Center election observation team, however, remains in Guyana and will continue its work and keep him informed of developments, the statement added.
“President Carter is hopeful about Guyana’s election and expressed his commitment and that of The Carter Center to supporting Guyana in the days ahead, stressing the need for a peaceful process before, during, and after the election,” the statement concluded.