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Recently I made the observation that GECOM, which had been media shy, had come alive. On this occasion, I am forced to comment on what occasions the lifting of GECOM`s veil of shyness.
Kaieteur News on Thursday, December 8, 2022 published an article: “GECOM agrees to use electronic fingerprinting at the place of poll ….” The newspaper, on Friday, December 9, 2022 published another: “GECOM rules Local Govt. Minister has no power to demarcate boundaries” These are two important matters on which GECOM had deliberated, but in its usual manner did not find it necessary to inform the public. However, when the media brought the matter to the public`s attention, GECOM rushed to give clarity and in so doing focused on the headlines of the articles rather than the content.
In reference to the second article, in its text, it is clearly stated that “Commissioners agreed that the Local Government Minister, does not have the power to demarcate constituency boundaries.” That report is as accurate as any can be. GECOM`s release, however, found it necessary to clarify what are the powers of the Minister and concluded that “regarding the recently gazette orders of the Minister, in which he made changes to the existing Local Authorities Areas, and at the same time may have identified changes to those constituencies within the Local Authority Areas, … those changes made to the boundaries of the local areas, and any changes to the electoral divisions within those Local Authority Areas, are within the legal authority of the Minister.”
The clarification quoted above is but an attempt to blind the public`s eyes to the facts, and the infringements that have occurred. Imagine GECOM uses its rarely used privilege to blind fold the public. In this regard, the following should be noted.
- In the penultimate paragraph of its press release, GECOM comments on the text of the “gazetted order of the Minister”. Hence, GECOM cannot pretend that there is no order related to the contention that the Minister exceed his authority. The Order and its content are known to GECOM, by its own admission. It is therefore baffling for GECOM, in its press release, to state that the Minister “may have identified changes to those constituencies”. He either did or did not. In any circumstance, it is not his role to identify or effect changes to the boundaries of constituencies.
- As a matter of fact, both order 40 and 50 of 2022 carry the title: The Local Authorities (Elections) (Constituencies) Order. Clearly this title, as the face of the Order, points to an order that is outside of the Minister`s jurisdiction. A perusal of the orders clearly indicate that they sought to establish constituency boundaries, to wit, in the extend area of the previous Toevlugt/Patentia Neighbourhood Democratic Council, Vriesland/Patosi has been gazetted as the 9th Constituency. There can be no misunderstanding. The actions taken specify the establishment of constituencies and their boundaries. No such authority is vested in the Minister.
- Further, GECOM in its publication of the voters` list has reflected the configuration and reconfiguration of constituencies as is the case in the Yarowkabra/Hararuni Area and the Yarowkabra/Lamaha Area, to mention just two. GECOM is therefore complicit in attempting to contravene the law.
What is obvious, is the complicity of elements in GECOM in support of the wrong doing of the Government; and GECOM`s foray into the Press to obfuscate and buttress the wrong doing. These acts are also perpetrated at the level of the Commission, when questions are posed. This has been the case in relation to the configuration of the published voters` list.
In relation to the first article, the fact is that the Chairperson, by virtue of her vote, determined that electronic finger prints, as a means of identification at the place of poll, can be utilised as an alternative form of identification, subject to the outcome of a feasibility study.