Mere hours before the 16th Biennial Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) is held, and the office bearers and Central Executive Committee posts are contested, the list of persons eligible to vote at the elections is still a matter of controversy.
At a special press briefing yesterday the party’s chief whip Lance Carberry sought to dismiss allegations by one of the nominees for the post of leader of the party, Dr Richard Van West Charles, that the list of voters was riddled with inaccuracies.
He had written to the party using the claims and objection period that is used to verify the authenticity of the list citing: systematic falsification of party membership forms; persons overseas and who could not have reasonably signed a form; even a fourteen year old and activists of the PPP included in the list of PNCR members; discrepancies that were found in the groups in which the Vice Chairpersons and the Director of Party Organisation exercise membership, as well as the systematic padding of the membership register.
Carberry yesterday said that Dr Van West Charles listed 53 names of persons whom he claimed did not sign their membership application forms; 15 names of persons that he claimed had migrated; and 20 names of persons whom he claimed were dead.
According to Carberry, it should be noted that no information was provided to the Verification Committee, by Dr. Van West Charles, to indicate on what basis he could substantiate his allegation that the forms were not signed by the applicants and that the application forms are stored in the Party Secretariat and were not displayed for public viewing.
According to Carberry, the committee proceeded to have the relevant membership forms extracted from the party records for examination following the complaint that there were persons who did not sign.
However a source close to the Van West Charles faction said that the issue was not if the forms at the Secretariat had signatures, but rather the authenticity of the signatures.
This newspaper was privy to see a list of names of persons signing to the fact that they did not sign any form to be a part of the voting register.
The Van West faction is adamant that the list is being padded, hence the call for the use of a handwriting expert to determine whether the same handwriting did not appear more than once on the register.
As it relates to the four persons who were stopped from gaining access to the register that was on display at Congress Place, the source pointed out that they had no intention of publishing the names, rather, they were collecting the information so that they could go and verify its authenticity.
According to Carberry, of the fifty-three names submitted, “our examination of the forms revealed that they all had the purported signatures of the applicants.”
He did concede that the Committee was in no position to verify the authenticity of the signatures, but sought to have the group and regional officials respond to the allegations. “In all cases, the representatives contended that the signatures were authentic.”
This newspaper was also told that Van West Charles’s officials that were out in the field, to verify the names on the list were actually persons that registered, were even chased out of some areas by staunch supporters of another candidate.
As it relates to the category of dead persons on the list, Carberry said that no supporting information was provided, but the Committee began the process by checking the source documents and of the 20 names provided, five persons were reported to be alive.
“Eight persons were confirmed as dead by the group and the deaths were claimed to be recent. Seven of them were already reported to the Secretariat by the group, during the verification period, and adjustments made to the Register.”
The Van West faction is of the opinion that the fact these persons even appeared on the list was suspect. This newspaper has also seen documents that numerous persons had signed claiming that they did not register at the last congress but received ID cards to go and vote.
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