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The Alliance for Change (AFC), in a recent press statement, said one of the party’s guiding principles is its commitment to free and fair elections and peaceful transfer of power.
According to the party, while they remain an independent political entity and will determine, after discussion with the National Executive Council (NEC), their participation in any future elections, they share the sentiments expressed by the leader of the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), Mr. Aubrey Norton, that it is entirely premature to commit without caveat the Coalition’s participation in the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE).
Yesterday Minister Dharamlall announced LGE will be held on March 13, 2023.
At the Leader of the Opposition’s press conference on Tuesday, Norton, responding to a question about the coalition contesting the LGE as a unit or alone, said that decision has not yet been taken.
The AFC, however, made known that as a responsible partner in the Opposition’s coalition, they are committed to those discussions with their membership, partners and the wider society.
In the meantime, the party said they have taken note of the information in the public square from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), assuring Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall of its ability to conduct the local elections without addressing the mountain of concerns surrounding the electoral system. These issues were highlighted in the much-publicised national recount following the March 2020 general elections.
The party continues to express concerns that despite the bloated list and several recommendations made by the observer missions on improving the conduct of elections and changing the election system, including the structure and composition of GECOM, the government is bent on going ahead with the elections.
Among the recommendations, the party restated, is house-to-house re-verification exercise to remove the dead and those citizens who had migrated and present a clean list of electors for future elections. “Unfortunately, these changes have not been made, threatening the integrity of all future elections in Guyana.”
The Preliminary Voters List has about 684,300 names which represents over 91% of the total population. 81% of Guyanese feel electoral reforms are necessary based on a recent survey by the United States-based International Republican Institute.
According to the AFC, without fundamental changes to the electoral system, democracy is under threat as this People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) regime is determined to cling to power by all means necessary. “Over the past two years, the government has done little to change the electoral system to avoid a repeat of the 2020 election fraud that brought it to power.”
In Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, General Secretary of the PPP/C, called for new house-to-house registration and improved biometrics as part of the party’s demands for electoral reform. In 2022 President Irfaan Ali said there is no problem with the List. GECOM claimed it is powerless to effect change to the Voters List based on a 2019 court ruling. Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Roysdale Forde SC, rubbished the claim.
In an interview with Kaieteur News, last month, Forde said GECOM is vested with significant power to facilitate the process for a credible list and process but behaving as though somehow they are being held hostage by the Government.
The AFC stated its steadfastness in advocating for changes to the electoral system that will strengthen Guyana’s democracy and give Guyanese the absolute right to choose their representatives free from fear, intimidation or coercion.