GEORGETOWN, Guyana, August 10, 2022 - Guyana’s Opposition APNU+AFC has stepped up its campaign to have the Guyana Elections Commission remove Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice Claudette Singh and to update the country’s electoral list to remove dead persons and persons who have migrated abroad.
The Opposition’s campaign comes against the background of moves by the Guyana Elections Commission in making preparations to host Local Government Elections.
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton yesterday reiterated that he does not see those elections taking place with the current List of Electors, as well as the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission, retired Justice Claudette Singh remaining in place.
Prior to the last elections, the Opposition maintained that the voters list was padded with names of persons who are not supposed to be on the list including dead persons as well as persons who now reside abroad.
Mr Norton’s People’s National Congress Reform-led coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change has accused the PPPC of engineering persons to vote in the names of deceased and migrated persons.
At the conclusion of the 2020 General Elections, CARICOM, the OAS and other observer missions had recommended that steps be taken to create a new list of electors.
However, President and leader of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) Irfaan Ali, recently insisted to reporters in Buxton, East Coast Demerara, that the list was not padded. He said that the same national register of registrants had been used to generate the voters list in 2011 when a minority People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration had been elected and then defeated in 2015. “Apparently, this is only a problem when you don’t win an election,” Ali said.
In recent months GECOM has started the hiring and training of election staff and supplementary funding was also set aside to elections preparations. The Opposition Leader said he has been engaging the international community on the issue and will continue to mobilize support against any attempt to hold elections if the status quo remains at GECOM.
“When we factor in the support of the public and Civil Society organizations clearly, the PPP stands alone totally isolated on this matter. The Opposition parties are therefore not the only voices calling for a clean voters list,” Norton said.
He said the opposition coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) would continue to mount pressure on the Irfaan Ali-led administration to put systems in place to clean the bloated voters list of 661,378 registrants. Official figures show that 464,563 persons voted in the March, 2020 general and regional elections.
“You’ll see from the figures that the list is padded. There is, like we pointed out, no country in this world outside of Guyana under Irfaan Ali and (Vice President Bharrat) Jagdeo in which a list has more than 80 percent of the population on it more so when young people under 18 constitute more than 200,000 of our population so it’s barefacedness,” he said.
Official figures show that Trinidad and Tobago has a population of 1,208,789 and 1,134,135 eligible voters, but 658,297 voted in that country’s 2020 election. In the just concluded St Kitts and Nevis general election, there were 50, 933 eligible voters and a total population of 53, 192 persons.
Earlier this year the Elections Commission carried out a continuous registration exercise as a basis to update the list of electors. Mr. Norton said he is confident when the Commission produces its Preliminary List of Electors, it will show deficiencies.
The High Court has ruled that names cannot be constitutionally removed from the national database of registrants and so those who are 18 years and older must be extracted and placed on the voters list. However, the names of deceased persons can be removed from the voters roll if they are supplied by the General Register’s Office and through a system of claims and objections.
Local Government elections were last held in Guyana in 2018 and was due last year—but the pandemic and other factors contributed to its postponement.