The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the biggest partner in the A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), is adamant that for there to be credible elections there must be house-to-house registration.
However, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) insisted yesterday that elections have to be held within three months as mandated by laws and any adjustments to the voters list can be fixed by a claims and objections period.
Yesterday, both Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry and Volda Lawrence, the Minister of Health, two senior officials of the PNCR, pointed to statements last month by President David Granger.
“In his address to the nation on June 18, 2019, our Leader and President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, His Excellency David Granger, provided clarity on the way forward for the people of Guyana.
“He said, ‘it is now clear that the Guyanese people need certainty about the future and a way forward. I want to outline a clear path. It is essential that we hold fair, free and credible elections. We cannot proceed on the current list of voters. It is outdated and corrupted. It may hold as many as 200,000 incorrect entries.”
Yesterday, the two PNCR officials argued that those who have reached the age of 18 years since the last election are not on it.
“The Constitution entitles all citizens over the age of 18, the right to vote. It is a democratic imperative that house-to-house registration be completed swiftly so we can have an election at the earliest opportunity. In the current political climate, it would be fair to ask – Why is the PPP so afraid of having a clean voters list and credible elections?”
The PNCR officials stressed that it was under the Bharrat Jagdeo presidency that the National Registration Act was amended by the “National Registration (Amendment) Act 2007” to ensure house-to-house registration.
“That amendment adjusted the principal Act and inserted the following: “(a) every registration officer shall, either by himself or an authorized officer, by house to house visits within the registration division or sub-division assigned to him, obtain as far as practicable the application for registration of every person, who is on the appointed date of the age of fourteen years or above for the purpose of ascertaining every person qualified for registration to have his name included in the National Register of Registrants.”
It further states that, “(1) The Commissioner shall establish a central register which shall consist of a computerized database of the information of the originals of the registration records and the originals of all persons registered under the house to house registration process mentioned in section 6, and the data so generated shall be utilized to effect the continuous registration process.”
According to PNCR, it establishes clearly that for elections to be credible in Guyana, there is need for house-to-house registration.
“The PNCR is adamant that for there to be credible elections there must be credible house-to-house registration. There are facts about the current voters list that cannot be disputed. It is true that the names of dead people are on the list. It is true that the names of missing or non-existent people are on the list. It is true that the list does not have the names of thousands of young people who recently became 18.”
PNCR said that in two field exercises conducted by GECOM, in excess of 150,000 entries on the list were found to be incorrect.
“In the same field exercises GECOM could not locate close to 30,000 persons whose National Identification Cards, GECOM has in its possession. As far as the PNCR is concerned, Jagdeo’s rantings are futile attempts to brow-beat the Guyanese people so that elections would be held with the corrupt list they (the PPP) created while in power. That will not happen.
“The APNU+AFC is confident that once the bloated and corrupted Voters’ List is replaced by a credible list, the Granger-led administration will be returned to power. “
PNCR said it is understandable that the PPP would argue to keep this corrupt list.
“It is their bread and butter. However, one cannot but wonder why new political parties, the Private Sector Commission, and some members of civil society champion this list, and by extension, support the perpetuation of a corrupt and undemocratic act against the Guyanese people.”
PNCR made it clear that it is convinced that during its 23 years in office, the PPP Government established an unenviable record of criminality, corruption, human rights abuse, abuse of power, obstruction of justice and incompetence.
“(Former President Bharrat) Jagdeo would now like for all of us to pretend that none of this happened. The PPP is banking that Guyanese, especially our young people, will forget the lessons of the recent past and judge them by their new posturing and self-righteous rhetoric.”
However, yesterday, the PPP in its statement, denounced the continued peddling of what it calls falsehoods.
“The party wishes to remind that it was none other than the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, who, on February 5, 2019, articulated a position that exposes the PNCR’s position as completely misleading.”
The Chief Elections Officer in his comments to the media was clear that a period of Claims and Objections can refresh the validity of an already “clean” Voters’ List.
“That the PNCR would go as far as touting falsehoods as “facts” about the Voters’ List is appalling. The PNCR claims that there are names of dead persons who are on the Voters List. The FACT is that this can be addressed without a new national house-to-house registration.
The PNCR claims that there are names of non-existent persons who are on the list. This is a blatant lie. No such complaint was raised by the PNCR in the last several elections held in Guyana. Additionally, the use of biometrics (fingerprints, etc.) prevents multiple registration of one person under different names.”
The Opposition denied that there are thousands of young people who recently became 18 years old and are not on the list.
“The party highly doubts that thousands of young persons are not registered, given that persons who attained the age of 14-years, as of October 31, 2018, were registered during the last Continuous Registration Cycle. However, the fact is that a Claims and Objections process allows any person who is 18-years-old to be registered as a first time voter.”
The PPP questions why the APNU+AFC Coalition Government is attempting to delay General and Regional Elections that are constitutionally mandated, following the passage of the no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.
“Why is the David Granger-led Administration averse to upholding the rule of law in Guyana? Is the APNU+AFC Coalition Government afraid of returning to the polls?”
The PPP cast aside the boast of the PNCR that a new Voters’ List will allow them to return to power.
A new list “does not confer any advantage to any political party to ensure an electoral victory. Rather; it is the policies and hard work of political parties.
“In over four years, the APNU+AFC Coalition has only been successful in increasing the hardships place on the Guyanese people – over 30,000 jobs have been lost, the decline in the local economy is visible, key productive sectors are facing greater hardships, there has been increased taxation resulting in Guyanese having less disposable income, and much more, including the decline of the health and other critical sectors. The policies of the current administration have failed to ensure greater job and wealth creation for our people.”
The PPP said it is maintaining that the Constitution of Guyana must be respected and elections must be held within the three-month timeframe stipulated by Article 106 (7) of the Constitution.
“The APNU+AFC Coalition Government must stop engaging in delay tactics and call elections now.”
The spectre of early elections was sparked by the shock December 21st no-confidence vote which heralded the fall of the Coalition Government.
The validity of the vote dragged on for months with the High Court upholding, ruling also that persons with dual citizenships are barred from holding parliamentary seats and by extension sitting as ministers.
The Court of Appeal later deemed the vote not carried.
This was recently reversed by the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Under regulations, Government is bound to hold elections in three months. However, the administration is insisting that the Voters List must be sanitized.
GECOM has said it will be ready with the clean list by Christmas, an untenable situation the Opposition.
Meanwhile, the Opposition also protested outside the Ministry of the Presidency. Scores of protesters led by PPP presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, and former Prime Minister, Sam Hinds, called for early elections and for the Government to observe the Constitution.
Speaking to the supporters at the Leader of the Opposition office on Church Street, Ali noted that the PPP is an all-weather party, rain or sun, always ready to protect democracy and uphold the Constitutions of Guyana.
According to Jagdeo who stood alongside Ali, the Coalition Government became illegal on March 21.
He said that the only way after the court rulings to change the situation is through elections.
He said that the Granger government behaves as though everything is normal and that they are not subjected to the Constitution rule and even the rulings of the CCJ.
Jagdeo said that the house-to-house registration at this time is a delaying tactic.
He said that the turnout yesterday should send a strong signal to the CCJ.
Jagdeo, the PPP General Secretary, urged supporters to keep pressuring the government to respect law and order.
He said that many APNU supporters can’t wait for elections to vote for the PPP as they are fed-up with failed promises.
According to Jagdeo, the Coalition is using the time it bought to transfer assets and benefit from duty free concessions, a good signal they are preparing to leave office.
He urged that the groundwork be done to bring the voters and for all Guyana to benefit from the oil and gas.
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