Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has indicated the need for electoral reform to be placed on the agenda for talks with President David Granger, but swept aside a proposal to scrap the ‘Carter formula’ used for the appointment of Commissioners to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“Definitely the conduct of elections should be something that we should put on the table in the discussion with President Granger. Maybe we should just contract this out. Get the United Nations because I think we can do it for cheaper with the sums of money that they spend at GECOM now and some of it going for all sorts of things,” Jagdeo told a press conference yesterday.
The Carter-Price formula was created by former United States of America President, Jimmy Carter and former Prime Minister of Belize, George Price.
The formula allows for the Opposition and Government to nominate three Commissioners each, with a Chairman appointed by the President, following consultations with the Opposition Leader.
The formula was a response to the contentious 1992 elections and was first applied in the General Elections of 1997.
Granger favours changing the current configuration and replacing it with the system currently used to appoint members of other constitutional bodies with members appointed by the President based on nominations from the Parliament.
“If we use other constitutional bodies as the model and the way they have been treated by this Government then we are in big trouble and the PPP will never agree with Granger there, given his track record of how he has treated constitutional bodies,” Jagdeo noted.
He accused the President of usurping the functions of those bodies, giving them directions and bullying the members.
Jagdeo recalled that when President Carter came to Guyana there was a situation where the voters’ list was in trouble and the counting of the ballots at polling stations was an issue for a long time because moving the ballot boxes to central places facilitated the rigging of elections.
“There was the demand from the entire Guyana then for a fair and independent elections commission because we did have an elections commission that was constitutional before, but we had rigging of the elections because the then executive loomed large over the body [GECOM],” Jagdeo stated.
The Opposition Leader pointed out that there is currently no model on the table to reform the current GECOM process.
“We could hold credible elections with just oversight from Guyanese cheaper if we contract it out to an international body that all the parties agree on; maybe a heavy presence not in the architecture, but in the machinery so that all parties would agree that we have a credible lists,” Jagdeo outlined.
He underscored that the need for the conduct of free and fair elections has always been a worry for Guyanese who must be given the assurance that the two interested parties – government and opposition don’t in their fight, overshadow the people’s right to free, fair and credible elections.
“We will put it on the table, but right now there is no other model in the game excepting what is in the Constitution and President Granger has to respect that and he has disrespected that, He has acted illegally.
Let us get it on the table because too many people fear that APNU will rig the elections,” Jagdeo stated.
Granger had faced criticisms when he appointed Justice James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM in October, last, without consensus from Jagdeo. This has sparked a legal challenge from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP).
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