The Alliance For Change (AFC) is reminding the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Dr. Steve Surujbally, that he is under no legal or moral obligation to honour the People’s Progressive Party’s “sinister request” to reopen the claims and objections period.
The party, in a press statement read yesterday by Parliamentarian David Patterson, said that it has learnt that GECOM is giving serious consideration to the PPP request to reopen the period of Claims and Objections for persons to be included on the preliminary list of electors.
“It is our information that GECOM has deferred its weekly statutorily meeting to today (Thursday) for a decision on this matter,” Patterson said.
But the AFC is categorical in its rejection of any attempt to extend the claims and objection period and is in the process of communicating this to GECOM.
The AFC said that it will not support any effort to delay Guyana’s general elections due this year.
“We wish to state, also, that any reopening of the claims and objections period will not only result in delayed elections but can also give the impression of collusion between GECOM and the PPP Government which will serve to erode the Commission’s credibility and bring into question the entire electoral process,” Patterson stated.
The governing People’s Progressive Party had raised concerns that thousands of persons could be disenfranchised if they do not get more time to be registered.
PPP General Secretary, Donald Ramotar, was reported as saying that more than 5,000 eligible people are currently off the list.
The PPP presidential candidate told a recent news conference at Freedom House that a number of persons have been unable to register for a variety of reasons, including late acquisition of birth certificates.
General Secretary of the main opposition People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), Oscar Clarke, was reported in a certain section of the media as saying that the number of persons who could be potentially disenfranchised is “substantial.” He did not have a figure.
“There are a significant number of personalities who are going to be affected nationally,” he said.
Asked whether the PNCR would push for the reopening of the Claims and Objections period to allow persons to get on the list, Clarke said his party would do nothing to set back the time-table for the general election.
“Any reopening means postponing of the elections which we, as a party are not keen on because that could then have other implications- political and otherwise,” Clarke added.
But the PPP General Secretary had argued that if GECOM takes steps to facilitate the registration of more persons, there is a “possibility” that running off the election could be delayed.
“I don’t expect it will be pushed back for any significant period of time,” Ramotar said.
According to the Alliance for Change, since the 2008 house to house registration, the issue of disenfranchisement of persons due to a lack of source documents has been raised on numerous occasions by AFC; but many AFC supporters have been denied source documents to allow them to register.
“This is an indictment of this government’s lack of concern and incompetence,” Patterson stated.
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