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|The main Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC), has made it known they are unflinching in their demand for a clean Voters List. In its press conference on Tuesday the coalition clearly made known they “remain steadfast in its demand that before any new elections in Guyana, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must respect and address the concerns of all stakeholders, inclusive of the Guyanese public.”
The integrity of the Voters List is a major factor in determining the integrity of the elections. Claims across the political divide that the elections are not transparent and foolproof cannot be ignored. The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), in October 2015, had called for “A new voters’ list to be compiled on the basis of a fresh house to house enumeration.”
Every international observer mission to the 2020 Election raised questions about the List and recommended efforts be taken to sanitise a list that reflects 85 percent of its population. Nothing has been done by the GECOM and the Government in the past two years to correct a problem that, if left unattended, would adversely impact the integrity of the election and deny the society knowing the true will of the people.
The gravity of the problem, pointed out by the Opposition, is reflected in the recently released new Preliminary Voters List (PLE) where there are 684,354 names on this list, which represents over 91% of the total population of Guyana. “This bloated monstrosity alone provides sufficient grounds to question whether GECOM can deliver an election that accurately reflects the democratic will of the Guyanese people and wins their trust and confidence.”
There remains concern across society that GECOM has failed to prioritise the need for a New Voters List before going to another election. Election in Guyana is not only about determining who gets elected or loses, but some see it as an ethnic census, and all are traumatised by the ethnic tensions and divisions, pre and post-election.
The APNU+AFC alluded to GECOM’s insensitivity to the clamouring of the public for a new list and recommendations by international observers. Despite these and other concerns, GECOM has forged ahead with election preparation as per norm, the coalition pointed out.
Justice Claudette Singh led GECOM is seen as the most polarising in the 30-year history of the organisation under a Commission that comprises Opposition and Government-nominated Commissioners and a consensus Chair.
According to the Opposition, “Chairperson Claudette Singh and the PPP commissioners continue to show total disregard for the concerns of the people of Guyana, inclusive of civil society. They continue to block and vote down the sensible resolutions of the Opposition commissioners. They continue to entirely ignore the conclusions and recommendations of the several 2020 election observer missions – such as CARICOM, the OAS, the EU, and the Carter Centre.”
The Opposition reminds, it was the CARICOM Mission, during the 2020 Recount Election, that concluded in its Report (page 50) that:
“As a minimum condition of electoral reform, the Team recommends the urgent need for the total re-registration of all voters in Guyana. It is clear that given the state of the voter registration of the country that Guyana was not adequately prepared for the 2020 poll. Yet circumstances beyond the control of the Commission precluded this preparedness. It therefore behooves the Commission to create a new voter registry especially given the suspicion that the 2020 register was bloated, a suspicion which is not without merit.”
Repeating disapproval of Justice Singh’s performance and competency in delivering free and fair elections, the APNU+AFC said they believe a clean voters list and biometric identification at the polling place can be achieved, whether through statutory, constitutional, technological, or administrative measures, to ensure elections of the highest standard.