Sep 02, 2022 News
…but Norton reiterates calls for ‘clean’ voters list
Kaieteur News – Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton says his party is not to be counted out in the upcoming Local Government polls despite calls for a clean voters list ahead of any elections. The Opposition Chief insisted that the party maintains its call for a clean list, but it has not commitment to not participating in the local polls.
When asked whether the party will in fact be going to Local Government Election as it seems clearer that no move will be made to clean up the list, the Opposition Leader said that he is unaware that “…at any stage the opposition said that it won’t go to polls without a clean list.” Norton said he is the person that has been speaking on the matter, “and I’ve said all the time that we are demanding a clean list and we continue to demand a clean list.”
Norton said that the Opposition has not commented on the upcoming election, rather, “we’ve commented on a list, we want a clean list and we will work toward a clean list,” Norton reiterated. The Opposition Leader insisted that as far as he is concerned Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) seems to be “following (Vice President Bharrat) Jagdeo and is making itself look dumb.” He claimed that laws have been amended in the past to deal with issues like the one facing the Guyana Elections Commission, this time in the case of providing a credible list. He noted therefore that the agency cannot come to the public to say that they are tied by a court ruling in performing its constitutional duty to provide credible elections, “the law can be amended to achieve the objective,” Norton submitted. He insisted therefore that “the opposition is demanding a clean list before any election and the language was carefully chosen.”
The Guyana Elections Commission said in a public missive that it took note of the concerns and opinions surrounding the existing Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) which was extracted from the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB) but it cannot act contrary to the legal provisions enacted in the National Registration Act (NRA), Chapter 19:08. It said there are legal processes to be followed regarding the removal of names, and that was amplified by a ruling of the High Court. The agency pointed out too that the court ruling was not challenged and so it remains that the body must follow the procedures set out. Stakeholders are demanding however that as the agency solely responsible for providing credible elections, the body must find a way to provide a list that supports voter confidence.
Alliance for Change (AFC) has also called for a clean voters list ahead of the upcoming Local Government Elections. It reminded that during the 2020 elections international observers were sure to encourage Guyana to clean up its voters list. AFC chairwoman Cathy Hughes had said that the Carter Centre, European Union, the OAS and Caricom, who monitored election processes in Guyana over the last decade, “have unanimously stated that a house-to- house registration process that will produce to a new voters list is a fundamental requirement to electoral reform in Guyana.
She quoted that the OAS recommended in 2020 “undertaking a house-to-house registration exercise at the earliest opportunity upon completion of the election and periodically thereafter”. Caricom, she claimed also stated emphatically in their report that “As a minimum condition for electoral reform, the team recommends the urgent need for a total re-registration of all voters in Guyana. It is clear that given the state of the voter registration of the country that Guyana was not adequately prepared for the 2020 poll.”….”It therefore behooves the Commission to create a new voters registry especially given the suspicion that the 2020 register was bloated, a suspicion which is not without merit.”
The High Court has nonetheless provided that even with a house to house registration, voters’ names cannot be removed from the list because they were not present at a particular location. The Opposition has thrown support however, behind the use of a biometric system for voter identification. While the Government said it supports the use of the system, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said that the Government will not support the machine to prevent persons from voting. Jagdeo has stated nonetheless that whether GECOM calls elections this year or the next, the People’s Progressive Party is ready for polls as they have been in campaign mode. The GECOM is finalizing which date the overdue elections will be held.
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