Sep 20, 2022 News
– seeking meeting with Government to discuss way forward
Kaieteur News – The Parliamentary Opposition is prepared to meet with the Government to find a solution to clean what they described as a bloated list of voters, even if it means a delay of the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) that could be held early next year once a date has been declared.
The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) parties have both called for a credible voters list, hinting at a boycott of the polls if the current voters list is used. Both parties have communicated to the Diplomatic Community nonetheless, their willingness to sit with the People Progressive Party (PPP) Government and change the laws if required, to ensure persons on the list are supposed to be there. The contention is that the voters list is bloated with the names of Guyanese living overseas, as well as deceased individuals. The names of these persons are used for impersonation voting, the Opposition and the Government have both alleged on different occasions.
APNU Member of Parliament and Shadow Attorney General (AG) Roysdale Forde in an interview with this newspaper said that “the Opposition is prepared to do what is required to ensure that there is a clean voters list and we are prepared to sit and meet with the Government in relation to this matter.” He said that the information was related to the international community as part of the Opposition’s efforts to get the Government to seriously address the deficiencies of the voters list.
Forde noted however, that what is happening is that the Government continues to reject the underlining premise, which is what is necessary to clean the list and secondly, they have now taken the position that the list is in fact credible. “So that is the problem that we have,” the Shadow AG related. He said it is not that the Opposition has an unwillingness to meet with the Government to participate in a process that will result in the list being clean, “but we have the downright refusal from the government to recognise that there is a problem.”
AFC leader, Khemraj Ramjattan also told the Kaieteur News that during the Opposition’s engagement with the Heads of Mission it submitted a proposal toward getting the voters list right. “We said even if we have to address the laws, because we told them, Madame, there are no laws that are required, but even if ya’ll feel that there are requirements for laws we can do those laws.” He said the Opposition also proposed to the Diplomats the suspension of the local government elections for August next year, “we don’t care. They (PPP) had not held elections for 20 years, we can wait some more,” Ramjattan argued. He said that the PPP is now in a checkmate position as this particular avenue had been explained to the Ambassadors, quite clearly by Leader of the Opposition Aubrey Norton, “that we can hold down the elections by a couple of months.”He said to postpone election would not be new as the PPP had done this before when they fought for a more purified list in the early 90s when elections were supposed to be held.
When the Opposition met with members of the Diplomatic Community, Ramjattan, said the envoys acknowledged statements they made following the 2020 elections, that a clean voters list should be provided to Guyanese before the holding of other elections. The AFC had said that several mission heads, including the European Union, CARICOM Community had highlighted in their observers report the need for cleaning the voters list which they said seemed to have played a major role in the 2020 controversy. The High Court had ruled ahead of the 2020 elections that names could not be removed from the voters list by persons merely being absent from a particular location during a house to house registration. Chief Justice Roxanne George- Wiltshire ruled that there is no way to remove persons’ names from the voters list unless they have died and with the relevant proof provided to support same, or are disqualified based on legal provisions specifying disqualification of a potential voter. The issue therefore is getting the dead and absent names off the list without breaking the law. The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has already said that it will act only within the law. It stated too that the ruling of the CJ remains unchallenged one whether the methods highlighted were the only ways available to clean the list.
In reply to the Oposition’s refusal to any election without a clean list, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo said at a Press Conference a few weeks ago that the Opposition will soon have to “backtrack” on their statement as “…there cannot be new voters’ lists before the local government elections…”
Among the Diplomatic Delegation was US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, UK High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller, Canadian Chargé d’Affaires, Caroline Mireault and the EU Chargé d’ Affaires, Evalina Melbardze. Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, PNCR Chairman Shurwayne Holder, Ganesh Mahipaul, Amanza Walton Desir, Alliance for Change (AFC) Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, AFC Chair, Cathy Hughes and AFC General Secretary, Sherod Duncan made up the Opposition team.
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