…once crucial Bill gets President’s assent
The Local Authorities (Elections) Amendment Bill was passed in the National Assembly on Wednesday. Once assented to by President David Granger, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Dr. Steve Surujbally, will give the green light for his Commission to implement its work plan for the conduct of Local Government Elections.
This commitment was given by Dr. Surujbally at a meeting on Wednesday, in the GECOM Boardroom, with Mr. Derek Lambe, Head of Political, Press and Information of the European Union in Guyana; Mr. Bryan Hunt, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of the United States of America in Guyana; British High Commissioner to Guyana, Mr. Greg Quinn; and Canadian High Commissioner, Mr. Pierre Giroux.
Dr. Surujbally was accompanied to the meeting by Mr. Vishnu Persaud, Deputy Chief Election Officer, and Ms. Juanita Barker, GECOM’s Legal Officer.
Following the provision of background information pertaining to the Commission’s state of preparedness for the conduct of Local Government Elections, the senior diplomats sought clarity on some ‘cloudy’ areas of interest which impact on the timelines of a few crucial prerequisites that must be accomplished.
Dr. Surujbally, supported by Mr. Persaud and Ms. Barker, provided the relevant explanations including the need for the Bill to be assented to by the President to clear the way for the extraction of the Preliminary List of Voters from the National Register of Registrants (NRR), instead of from the 1992 Official List of Electors as is currently provided for in law.
It was also pointed out that included in the Bill are a few crucial pieces of legislation that must also be enacted for the elections to be carried out in an efficient manner, e.g. the movement of Nomination Day from 21 days to 50 days before Election Day.
If this is not done, Dr Surujbally said that the existing timeframe would be insufficient for the designing and printing of 585 different ballot papers. “Consequent upon the passage of the Bill by Parliament, the preparations for, and the prerequisite conduct of Claims and Objections leading the finalization of the Official Register of Voters would take GECOM at least to the end of 2015,”said the GECOM Chairman.
The Diplomats were given the assurance that, notwithstanding the foregoing, the GECOM Secretariat had already gone ahead with training and selection of permanent and temporary staff to man the offices where Claims and Objections will be conducted within the respective Local Authorities, identification of locations for the establishment of Offices for Electoral Registrars and Assistant Electoral Registrars, and the identification of persons to be trained and appointed to work as Returning Officers, Deputy Returning Officers, Clerks to the Returning Officers and Election Day Staff with specific reference to the conduct of Local Government Elections.
At the end of the meeting, the GECOM Chairman responded positively to the Diplomats’ collective request that they be kept abreast with developments relative to the forthcoming Local Government Elections as they unfold.
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