– AG calls on GECOM to proceed with lawfully due elections
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., M.P., has called out the opposition, APNU+AFC for its continued delaying tactics, as it relates to the hosting of Local Government Elections (LGE).
Speaking on his weekly programme, ‘Issues in the News’, the AG, said the government has noted the constant shifts in arguments by the opposition, which he outlined.
“They have a problem with the list that GECOM has published to go to the elections. They say the list is wrong now, the constituency list they’re saying is wrong, or that the list was not properly extracted and that the list should go to another claims and objection cycle. This is a new argument. It’s not a bloated list argument anymore. There’s a new argument now that the local government list got problems,” the AG said.
He noted that Leader of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan also concocted an issue with the list to justify his party’s unwillingness to contest the LGE.
“So, he’s not going ahead because the list, according to him, needs to be cleaned. We have explained, even the APNU has accepted that only constitutional reform can address their issue, not that there is anything unclean about the list. But whatever problem they have with the list, I believe they have now accepted that it has to be addressed like constitutional reform. Ramjattan doesn’t care to even reach that stage. Ramjattan holds on to the nonsensical argument that the list is unclean and needs to be cleansed,” AG Nandlall pointed out.
He said neither of the two major parties that constitute the coalition, are prepared for the LGE.
After agreeing to another round of claims and objections and possibly postponing the elections for a few weeks, the opposition has now raised objections with the boundaries, claiming that Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall does not have the power to demarcate boundaries.
“The electoral process is in the law books. They are in the statute books. It’s a step-by-step process. The power to divide Guyana is a power that lies with the Minister of Local Government. Whether you want to divide Guyana into villages, into regions into people cooperative units, into constituencies in the local democratic areas, into municipalities in the local democratic organs, whatever characterisation, the power to divide the country into these various configurations, I have outlined, is a power that is resided with the Minister of Local Government,” the minister explained.
He added that the power to adjust electoral divisions to suit the physical demarcation made by Minister Dharamlall, for the purpose of any election, resides with GECOM.
“This is another attempt at stalling, they don’t want the local government elections. So, they will come with all kind of shenaniganism, all manner of foolish arguments to detain and delay the Guyana Elections Commission,” the AG contended.
Government is calling on GECOM to proceed to hold the lawfully due local government elections, noting the commission’s duty to holding the elections in the time stipulated by law unless the National Assembly extends that time.
Minister Dharamlall has set March 13, 2023 as the date for the holding of the local elections.
However, Nomination Day, which was scheduled for December 12, 2022, has since been postponed, until further notice by GECOM.
GECOM, in a statement, said this decision was taken at a special meeting of the Commission held on December 8, 2022 which was held to deliberate on a proposal submitted by the Chief Election Officer Vishnu Persaud to conduct an exercise to correct the Registers of Voters for Local Government Elections under Section 24A of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Chapter 28:03.
Subject to further deliberations on this matter, GECOM stated information on the way forward would be shared, in a timely manner, with all stakeholders.