Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
Shadow Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Roysdale Forde SC, appearing Tuesday at the Leader of the Opposition press conference, said Chief Elections Officer (CEO) and Commissioner of Registration, Mr. Vishnu Persaud’s proposal to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to allow for a new 14-day Claim and Objections period, though evidence the agency knew it is in violation of the Local Authorities Act, is not sufficient.
Asked by Village Voice if the Opposition, A Partnership of National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) will withdraw the cases against GECOM, Persaud and Attorney General Anil Nandlall SC given the CEO’s proposal, Forde said, “Certainly not!”
Opposition Chief Scrutineer, Ms. Carol Smith Joseph, approached the Court last Friday seeking declarations GECOM violated the Local Authorities (Elections) Act Cap. 28:03 in several areas, and should the agency fail to comply with the Act, in its entirety, to render the Register of Voters (RoV) for the Local Government Election (LGE) “null, void and of no legal effect.”
Smith Joseph, who is being represented by Forde, presented several exhibits showing names of deceased still on the list, persons no longer resident within the local authority names on the local authority list. To participate and contest in LGE the elector and candidate have to satisfy residency requirements. Speaking to the issue Tuesday, Forde said the list is “fundamentally flawed and unacceptable.”
The member of parliament told this publication the violations of the Act are so egregious the electorate cannot rely on GECOM to self-correct when the CEO, the government-appointed commissioners and the chairperson kept ignoring calls to fully comply with the Act. The court is the best recourse to issue directives to ensure compliance and we have approached the court with declarations and exhibits for determination, he affirmed.
Forde, who Tuesday said GECOM’s responsibility is not only to produce a list and publish it but to make sure the list is above scrutiny, advised the Opposition remains committed to free, fair and credible election and the RoV is critical to this. Persaud, who is administratively responsible for the election process and would have advised the commissioners of the agency’s preparedness and readiness for the election, presented several reasons to justify his proposal.
And according to the him the new Claims and Objection period provides for:
i. Correction of the Registers Exercise;
ii. all correction to the registers subject to approval by the commission;
iii. the RoVs be posted at two buildings within each division/sub-division in each local authority (which will take about seven days to complete);
iv. the district office being staffed with the requisite personnel to deal with the various transactions;
v. finger-print of new electors to be cross matched before entry into the relevant register is made.
Demerara Waves reported GECOM meets today to examine the proposal. Should it be accepted, LGE will not be held on March 13, 2023. The CEO however stated what is more at stake is to ensure the upcoming LGE “to not only be free, fair and credible, but to be seen by all concerned as being free, fair and credible.”
A GECOM staffer Tuesday told Village Voice the 14-day timeline is unrealistic and the situation “a mess, because those in authority have been ignoring the advice of those who understand how the system works.”
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Tuesday- following the Opposition press conference and Persaud’s 3rd December letter announced, via statement, the party will not be opposed to GECOM embarking upon another round of Claims and Objections in respect of the RoV.