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…GECOM to proceed with removal of Jimmy James from Region 8 RDC list
…says incorrect letter from LJP delayed the process
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is proceeding with the Liberty and Justice Party’s (LJP) request for a change of its Region Eight Regional Democratic Council (RDC) candidate from Jimmy James to Claris Francisco.
On Tuesday in a press release, the Commission clarified media reports which suggested that GECOM was responsible for the delay in the requested change. According to Public Relations Officer (PRO) Yolanda Ward, LJP first made the request in September 2020 but supply proper documentation.
“The Liberty and Justice Party initially wrote to the Chief Election Officer in September, 2020 indicating that due to COVID-19 restrictions, persons in the Region were unable to travel to RDC meetings and as a consequence, the party would have selected a named alternate candidate from its Region 8 List of Candidates,” Ward explained.
Representative of the List, John Flores was contacted and was advised that the law does not make provision for the appointment of alternate Councillors and therefore a revised letter must be submitted clearly stating the party’s request to have the gazetted Councillor replaced.
However, the LJP questioned GECOM’s request. It’s Leader, Lenox Shuman wrote to GECOM on November 27, 2020, informing that the Party had been advised by its Counsel that there is no such guidance in electoral laws and insisted that the previous correspondence stand.
Ward stated: “This matter was discussed extensively at the level of the Commission and it was agreed that the LJP must submit proper documentation requesting a change of the Councillor and provide a justification for its request. That information was communicated to Mr. Flores and GECOM was awaiting the submission before it acts. The correct letter as requested was delivered to GECOM on January 26, 2021. The agency will now take all the necessary steps to effect the change as it is the usual protocol.”
The LJP has stated that the ongoing efforts to remove James was initially due to his ill health after he contracted COVID-19 but is now due to his support of the main Opposition.
James has noted efforts by his party to replace him through GECOM. Initially, Flores told the media that James was ill and didn’t want the position. However, in an interview with the Village Voice News, James said that he was in good health and very much interested in representing the people of Region Eight.
As the lone LJP representative among an equal division of the APNU+AFC and the PPP/C, James said the holdup is as a result of the “balance of power” he holds on the Council. He said that a political struggle for power is ongoing and he is stuck in the middle of it.
He’d planned to support the APNU+AFC at the RDC level since the political party has garnered the most votes in Region but, according to reports, this has not been well digested by the PPP/C or the LJP.
Giving their most recent reason for the switching out of James, the LJP stated: “Mr. James who has the respect of the LJP’s executive no longer enjoys the confidence of the LJP and by his own admission is not aligned to the LJP, is no longer willing to serve in the capacity as an LJP representative and is aligned to the PNC.”