Following a meeting with officials of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) the Alliance for Change (AFC) is uncertain of how the electoral authority will treat a number of concerns the political party has expressed.
The AFC had said at a previous briefing that it is perturbed over the postponement of the claims and objections period, which it said has pushed the earliest possible date for elections to a later time, in spite of previous assurances by GECOM it would not be so.
The AFC met Tuesday with GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally and other members of the commission.
“We regret to report that we left the meeting not knowing whether the several issues we had written GECOM about would be favourably considered,” the Party stated
The AFC said its major concern was that it is not being treated as an independent political party which is provided with all the material necessary for scrutiny of electoral lists in every district, so that proper claims and objections can be made. The party asserted that it should be given all the documented information given to the PPP/C and the PNCR.
The AFC had requested – and said it was denied – electronic copies of the list of registered electors that is convenient in quickly seeking out names of persons who should be placed for a district
“Even more contentious was the refusal of the GECOM to acknowledge that the electronic copy PLE (Preliminary List of Electors) given to us was in a format not conducive to making quick checks of persons’ names.”
Earlier this month, GECOM had increased the hours for persons to register their claims and objections on the national voters’ list by one hour during the week, but the AFC insists that is not enough.
In a notice in a supplement to the Official Gazette on May 10, the Elections Commission announced an amendment to the opening hours of Registration Offices from Monday to Friday, moving the time to 9:00 hrs to 19:00hrs.This amends a May 6 notice in the Official Gazette by GECOM that had put the Monday to Friday opening hours as 10:00 hrs to 19:00 hrs.
The opening time on Saturdays and Sundays remain at 10:00 hrs to 14:00 hrs. Holidays are excluded, and opening time for Registration Sub-Offices also remains the same at 15:30 hrs to 19:00 hrs from Monday to Friday, and 10:00 hrs to 14:00 hrs on Saturday and Sunday.
The extra hour added for claims and objections from Monday to Friday at Registration Offices essentially totals 23 hours because there were 23 working week days from publication of the amendment, May 10, to the end of the time to inspect the list of registered persons, June 12.
“But that’s just one day,” AFC presidential candidate Khemraj Ramjattan told this newspaper in an invited comment.
He added, “We feel that is too minimal an amount of time given the serious grievances we have [with the list], we feel it should have been extended by at least two weeks. But if that is the position of GECOM, there is nothing we can do.”
The party contended that a rescheduling of the start date for claims and objections will result in the earliest possible date for general elections being pushed back.
“The AFC is not comfortable with the unilateral reduction of the now commenced claims and objections period from 42 days to 32 days,” AFC stated,
He added, “We feel that it is too minimal an amount of time given the serious grievances we have [with the list], we feel it should have been extended by at least two weeks. But if that is the position of GECOM, there is nothing we can do.”
At its weekly media briefing last Wednesday, the AFC had expressed dissatisfaction with the postponement of the earlier scheduled period for interested parties to check the listed of registered persons and make known their claims and objections to the names of persons on the list, or the absence of names.
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