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Citizens are upping their demands for a clean Voters List. Protesting in front of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Wednesday they made their presence felt, once again. Demonstrators are making it very clear they want “a clean voters list or no election.” The chants called on Justice Claudette Singh, Chairperson of GECOM, “to go” along with accusing her of being found guilty for “dereliction of duty.”
“A clean voters list or no election. Go Claudette go,” “Dereliction of duty, we find you guilty,” “We demand biometrics to prevent multiple voting” “A clean voters list is the minimum for a credible election,” “Compromised officials must go,” were among the chants.
Mr. Kidackie Amsterdam, host of the online ‘Buxton Morning Time’ programme, was giving voice to the citizens’ concerns with the use of a loudhailer.
Unlike previous demonstrations there were no physical barriers around the parameters of the building but the watchful presence of the Guyana Police Force was noticeable.
Without exception, all regional and international observers in the 2020 General and Regional Elections have urged the sanitisation of the List.
As the country prepares for the constitutionally overdue Local Government Elections, the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) has 684,354 names, which represents over 91% of Guyana’s population.
GECOM said after one month of Objections it has received only 17 objections. The numbers may very well suggest disinterest in elections, absence of faith in the system, poor education, mixed messages from the political leadership, among other factors.
A recent International Republican Institute’s survey found 81% of Guyanese feel electoral reforms are necessary.
GECOM sought to convey their hands are tied in ensuring a list that can have the confidence of the nation. In a recent statement the organisation said it “has taken note of concerns and opinions in the public domain in relation to the existing PLE which was extracted from the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB) [but] it was determined that GECOM cannot act contrary to the legal provisions enacted in the National Registration Act (NRA), Chapter 19:08.”
Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Roysdale Forde S.C is not sold on GECOM’s explanation. According to him, the organisation has “to come up with a mechanism to ensure in respect of persons who cannot be taken off the list, that they put in place sufficient mechanisms to ensure or reduce the risk of multiple and substitution voting. It is their constitutional duty to do that.”
The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC), in government and opposition, has been calling for a clean voters list and improved biometrics to avoid multiple voters. In October 2015 then Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), demanded from GECOM a clean voters list, improved biometrics, among other electoral reforms which were their repeated chants. In 2022 President Irfaan Ali said the List is not the problem.