Nov 24, 2015 News
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is calling on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to get its act together. The party is contending that the Commission has not demarcated the boundaries in major constituencies.
During its weekly press conference at Freedom House yesterday, the party also noted that GECOM has not commenced the merging of constituencies with low populations.
In Local Government Elections, the 580 constituencies being contested by candidates come under either Municipalities or Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDC) and have to be demarcated (boundaries laid out).
On November 22, GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander stated that the Commission was ready and that any concerns that the PPP have would be settled before the polls.
However, PPP Member of Parliament Zulficar Mustapha said that GECOM had submitted the demarcated boundaries to them a few weeks ago and subsequently, a new one.
“(Whilst) they (will be) doing the claims and objections, they are still fiddling with the boundaries,” he noted. “So it seems that they have not settled with the boundaries as yet and they are saying they are ready for LGE.”
Mustapha also stated that GECOM is still trying to demarcate boundaries in Anna Regina, Lethem, Bartica and Corriverton. He noted that demarcation is important in ensuring that new and bordering communities are taken into account.
He also pointed to the potential for difficulties in demarcating Lethem, since there are Amerindian communities bordering it. Some communities also have to be merged, if there is a population disparity.
In cases involving Amerindian communities, Mustapha also noted that consultations at the National and Community levels must be held, in consideration of the Amerindian Act.
“So they have to get their act together,” he said, making it clear that GECOM could not have settled the boundary question, and yet keep sending revised boundaries to the party.
Mustapha added that during meetings with GECOM, the party had requested that the verification exercise not be done on the same day as the registration. This was something the party’s scrutineers had picked up.
“If someone goes to get registered from an area, we asked them that (the process should allow for) this person’s verification to be done the following day, so that we can ensure these people are living at the rightful address.”
He posited a scenario whereby someone can submit a purported address during registration. They can then go straight to that address and be verified as living there, when in fact, they were not living there permanently.
“GECOM has been going out and verifying addresses the same day as registration,” he said. “Our scrutineers objected to it and they are now taking the APNU scrutineers and are saying that they will do the verification.”
“We objected to that; we have made a note of the names and we will be making representation to GECOM.”
Reminded that any such discrepancies would be picked up during the objections exercise, Mustapha said that the Party’s intention was to nip them in the bud.
Local governments are mandated by law to provide services such as improving living conditions, creating employment in the various local areas, maintaining roads, bridges and other important infrastructure, garbage collection, cleaning of drains, promoting a healthy environment and encouraging citizens’ involvement in their communities.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) commenced its Claims and Objections exercise for Local Government Elections on November 9 to produce a Register of Voters (RoV) for each of the nine Municipalities and 62 NDC. The exercise will end on December 13, 2015.
To facilitate the exercise, GECOM has established 160 Claims and Objections Offices at strategic locations within all of the Municipalities and NDCs. All of these offices have been gazetted and published in the print media, prior to the commencement of the exercise as is required legislatively.
Local Government Elections were last held in 1994. Though promised in the run up to elections over the years, the previous PPP administration has never followed through.
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