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Today political parties/groups/individuals contesting the Local Government Elections (LGE) would have been presenting their List of Contestants for the March 13, 2023 Elections. Nomination Day, as per the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), has been postponed. A new date has not been announced. Given the stipulated days between Nomination Day and Election day, LGE may likely be postponed. GECOM is also mum on this.
Two Saturday ago, December 3rd, Chief Elections Officer and Commissioner of Registration, Mr. Vishnu Persaud, wrote GECOM Chair, Justice Claudette Singh with a proposal that included the re-opening of the Claims and Objections period for 14-days. His proposal came subsequent to challenge to the elections filed by Opposition Chief Scrutineer, Ms. Carol Smith Joseph, on December 2nd.
Smith Joseph who is represented by attorney-at-law Mr. Roysdale Forde SC, is asking to court to render the Register of Voter List “null, void and of no legal effect” if GECOM fails to comply, in entirety, with the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Chapter 28:03.
GECOM’s about turn undoubtedly has been influenced by the lawsuit and implications for the integrity of the list, which is part of the process to ensure a credible election, vote, count and declaration.
Forde spoke with Village Voice and stated that today is a day of infamy for local government democracy in Guyana. “GECOM and the PPP Government should be ashamed of their sinister behaviour to deny citizens the right to participate in a credible process and elect their leaders for the next three years.” Further Forde said the PPP together with some on the GECOM Commission are making every effort to put systems in place to continue the rigging of elections. “Every voter, every citizen must therefore be vigilant in making sure the List in their constituency does not have the names of dead persons, those not resident in the area, and those not eligible to vote. Local government is the first tier of democracy and every citizen is obligated to protect it.”
Shadow Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Ganesh Mahipaul, at the Opposition press conference last Tuesday called on GECOM to host a press conference and answer to the public on matters pertaining to the list, reconfiguring of constituencies, and the holding of elections.
In a press release last Friday, GECOM said the Commissioners agree the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Mr. Nigel Dharamlall has no authority to “form or change the configuration of constituencies within those areas,” and that authority lies with GECOM. GECOM only broke its silence after the public was apprised the minister’s action was not in keeping with the law.
GECOM in its statement Friday December 9th made known Justice Singh said “if the Minister sought to form or change the configuration of constituencies within those areas, he would have usurped the power granted to the Commission to combine and sub-divide electoral divisions to form constituencies. If such were the case, the Minister would have acted outside of his legal remit.”