Sep 05, 2022 News
Kaieteur News – The Alliance For Change (AFC) party will be discussing a number of issues with its National Executive Council (NEC) before certain decisions are taken, namely, whether the party will be heading to Local Government Elections with its coalition partner, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and what moves it would be making in handling the “bloated” voters list.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) says it cannot remove names from the list due to a ruling of the Chief Justice specifying the legal ways that names of voters could be removed. AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan told the Kaieteur News that no decision has been made yet as to whether the party will be the APNU’s running mate and what will happen with the current voters list in place. “We indicated that all of these will have to be decided by our NEC before we proceed. The decision (regarding APNU) is still under consideration,” the leader said. He pointed out that there are“… a lot of decisions to make,” and these will include whether the list is purified.
Ramjattan told the newspaper that his party maintains that a voters list must be provided to the country through the regular process of existing mechanism of House to House registration. “We feel that there can be a voters’ list that must be discovered and made accurate by a house to house registration. We had done a house to house in 2006 for the purpose of finding a good list and we did that.” Ramjattan said it was the precedent set for a long time that every 10 years or so, that a house to house registration would be done, not only with a brand new set of names, but names with their addresses within the various districts.
The party leader said that when a house to house registration is done, “you are doing an actual registration of where people are now living. And so that you can make sure that where they are now living, the closest polling station is where they can go. You will be doing also, a registration that will know exactly how many people are going to vote and how many ballot papers you are going to prepare.”
“When you have a bloated list like this, you gotta basically prepare for seven hundred and something voters or 600 and something voters; ballot papers have to be catered for, where as if indeed it is 450 to 500 thousand voters, you only have to do that. And the polling stations to accommodate that kind of arrangement.” The house to house also ensures for the people in those areas, would know more about the correct people on the voters list.
The Chief Justice ruling of 2019 has indicated however, that a house to house registration cannot remove the names of persons unless they would have died or been disqualified according to the legal provisions that provide for disqualification. GECOM has thus indicated a conundrum where it cannot remove names from the voters list especially since the CJ’s ruling remains unchallenged.
Stakeholders are demanding however that as the sole body for elections with a legal mandate to provide free, fair and credible elections, the body must find a way to give the country an acceptable and credible voters list rather that saying that there is nothing it could do to fix the bloated list. They say that the law gives GECOM the power to put measures in place, and use its authoritative weight to go beyond limitations to deliver clean elections. Ramjattan is concerned that the CJ’s decision may not have properly taken into consideration all associated legislations regarding the subject.
An AFC team as well as members of the APNU, last week met with members of the diplomatic community to further highlight their concerns over the bloat GECOM list. Chairwoman Cathy Hughes had told Kaieteur News that there were calls from the international observers to have a clean list ahead of elections given that there seemed to be negatives impacting the list’s credibility. In a press statement, Hughes had also quoted the statements of some head of missions. GECOM has indicated the likely holding of elections early next year and already the Opposition has insisted no elections before a clean list. This was chief among the discussion and need for the holding of house to house registration.
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