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…underscores the importance for meaningful consultation
The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), on Saturday, endorsed the Electoral Reform Group’s (ERG’s) position on the proposed amendments to the Representation of the Peoples Act (RPA), but in doing so, underscored the importance of dialogue in resolving areas of disagreements.
“While there are areas of disagreement, many of the proposals averred are acceptable,” the PNCR said in a statement on New Year’s Day.
It said the fact that the Electoral Reform Group sees dialogue as important to the resolution of the problems is teemed with potential for the areas of disagreement to be addressed.
“There is almost unanimous agreement that GECOM is in need of fundamental restructuring and reform,” ERG said in a 13-page report, while underscoring the need for there to be national consensus in the process of report.
“The single most worrying omission from the current process is the absence of dedicated spaces for stakeholders to discuss and deliberate together, as a means of achieving an increased national consensus on the proposed reforms,” ERG said.
It also pointed out that many of the local, regional and international observers to the 2020 General Elections noted weaknesses in voter registration which was a contributory factor in the conflicts around the elections.
In backing the position of the ERG, the PNCR urged Government to let good sense prevail, and allow for a genuine process of consultation to take place. “Such an approach will allow us to resolve many problems that emanate from our electoral process,” the party emphasized.
It said it is appreciative of the work put in by the ERG. It also renewed its commitment to dialogue and the promotion of the interest of all the people of Guyana to attenuate their differences and build a unified Guyana.
In its report, ERG said the amendments start out from a conceptual basis that is fundamentally incorrect. “Government leaders have stated that the motivation behind the
proposed amendments is to impose measures that will prevent a recurrence of the
political crisis of March to August 2020 following the General Election. This premise is illconceived on two grounds,” it outlined.
However, it acknowledged the need for elections commission to be reformed.
“A reform of highest priority that Guyana needs is reform of the composition of GECOM and the way in which it is constituted. GECOM as currently constituted is dysfunctional and prone to deadlock. We need a GECOM that works on a consensus basis, is authoritative and generates public confidence,” the group said.
It pointed out that the 2021 Latin American Public Opinion Poll (LAPOP) found, with statistical certainty, that Guyanese significantly lack confidence in elections.
“For example, only 18% of citizens think that votes are always counted correctly and fairly. Similarly worrying findings surround suspicions that the rich buy election results and that the vote is not secret,” it said.
It added that the proposed amendments fail to address fundamental GECOM reforms needed to improve the institution’s functioning and without which there can be no serious electoral reform.