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The A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition has signalled their intent to now participate in electoral reform consultation dealing with the Representation of the People Act. The decision came after the coalition issued a statement last Thursday signalling it will not participate unless demands they made last May, on electoral reforms, are met.
According to the Opposition, their initial position of non-participation was due to the Government’s failure to address key systemic and structural flaws and weaknesses in the electoral system. The Opposition stated, “they want reform to ensure local, regional, and national elections must meet three objectives: (i) only eligible persons must be registered—that is, we must have a clean voters list, (ii) results must accurately reflect the will of those who voted, and (iii) every step of the election process must win the trust and confidence of the public, participating parties, and other relevant stakeholders.”
According to the Opposition the three objectives require that Guyana must embark on urgent and comprehensive electoral reform.
“Comprehensive electoral reform must, at minimum,” said the Opposition “include the following components: (i) a thorough review by GECOM of its performance in managing recent elections; (ii) genuine national consultations involving the public, civil society, and the parliamentary political parties. These must be modelled after the 1999/2000 Constitution Reform Commission process.”
The Opposition also wants key elements in reform to include: “a multi-stakeholder/expert committee, a consensus chairperson, a public call for oral and written submissions, and public outreaches and hearings, (iii) the in-depth involvement of experts on electoral laws, electoral systems, elections technologies, and elections management, and (iv) holistic constitutional and legislative amendments or enactments.” According to the Opposition should this happen they “stand ready to lend parliamentary support to all agreed-to changes.”
On Friday, AFC Leader, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, said the coalition will participate in the electoral reform consultation that will begin on Tuesday October 25th at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre. Participation will centre around Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill and the draft Regulations made under the Representation of the People Act.
Ramjattan, who is also a Member of Parliament and shadow Minister of Agriculture, said the “party is committed to electoral reform and is going to be present at the consultation primarily for the purpose of discerning the intention of the PPP’s proposed set of amendments and why not others,” and “will do so in collaboration with its parliamentary partner APNU.”
The coalition will be represented by Ramjattan and Roysdale Forde SC, shadow Minister of Legal Affairs. Both are attorneys-at-law by profession.
The government has said some 157 organisations were invited to participate.