The March 13, 2023 Local Government Elections should be postponed for a period of eight months pending the establishment of a credible voters’ list. This is the staunch view of Leader of the Alliance for Change, Khemraj Ramjattan who has announced that the party would boycott the elections even as their demands for a new voters’ list continue to be rejected by Government.
Even as calls continue to mount from Guyana’s parliamentary opposition for the existing voters’ list to be rid of migrants and deceased overseas-based Guyanese, at least one opposition party has announced that it will not contest the Local Government Elections slated for March of next year.
The Alliance for Change on Sunday via a press release indicated that its National Executive Committee, after much debate, arrived at a consensus that the party will not participate in the upcoming Local Government Elections without changes to the list of electors.
The statement also reads that the Alliance for Change has concluded that no election should be held with the existing list of electors because it is bloated, illegitimate and a source of eelectoral fraud, as demonstrated during the publicized national recount in 2020.
During a telephone conversation with They Break News, Leader of the Alliance for Change, Khemraj Ramjattan reasoned that the party’s request for local government elections to be held in abeyance as efforts be directed to rectifying a new voters’ list is not unique to Guyana and was done in 1990.
“They did not like the list because it was bloated by one hundred thousand persons. This one is bloated by two hundred thousand people and the same argument the PPP was making in 1990 resulting in the postponement of the elections until 1992, I am making now. Postpone the elections for about an eight months period so we could get a credible list and that list also, would be close enough for the 2025 elections,” Ramjattan reasoned.
The Alliance for Change says it has already called on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to produce a credible voters’ list by conducting a certifiable house-to-house verification and registration process. The party has also indicated its acceptance of using biometrics and the necessary electronic equipment to enhance Guyana’s voting experience and reduce the propensity for impersonation.
AFC’s coalition partner, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) has also joined calls for a new voters’ list. Last week members of parliament of the coalition walked out to of the National Assembly during the 50th sitting after their motion to discuss voter impersonation and a new voters’ list was shut down by the Speaker, Manzoor Nadir.
Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance, Gail Teixeira alleges that the opposition intends for Government to contravene the 2019 ruling by Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire.
“The constitution was interpreted by a court of law that stated that residency did not require one to be in Guyana. It required one to be registered as a voter in Guyana and if you wish to pay for your fare and come home, you are free to vote in Guyana’s elections,” Teixeira noted.
Chief Justice (ag), George-Wiltshire in 2019 ruled that then ongoing house-to-house registration exercise cannot be used to remove persons’ names from the National Register of Registrants while noting that residence requirements from citizens is no longer a qualification for the registration and that the right to vote and the right to be registered to vote are sacrosanct.