OPPOSITION CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE ELECTORAL REFORM WITHIN A GENUINE NATIONAL CONSULTATIVE PROCESS

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Please read full press release:

The PPP must now face the reality that the nation has rejected both its amendments to RoPA and its so-called public consultations on electoral reform. This rejection is informed by the fact that the PPP’s approach is piecemeal, deceitful, and self-serving. As such, the PPP totally fails to address key systemic and structural flaws and weaknesses in our electoral system. It totally avoids any consideration of major constitutional, statutory, administrative, operational, and technological reforms. In fact, the PPP’s approach seems more likely to make free, fair, and uncontested elections in Guyana more elusive. For the sake of the country, we can and must do better! We need all stakeholders to participate and be satisfied that we have improved the system and prepare the basis for free and fair elections.

For the Opposition, local, regional, and national elections must meet three objectives: (i) only eligible persons must be registered, (ii) results must accurately reflect the will of those who voted, and (iii) every step of the election process (viz., registration; production of voters’ lists; voting and counting; and tabulation and declaration of results) must win the trust and confidence of the public, participating parties, and other relevant stakeholders. Meeting these three objectives requires that Guyana must embark on URGENT AND COMPREHENSIVE ELECTORAL REFORM. Tinkering will not work. Disjointed changes will not work. Bad faith will not work.

Additionally, the PNCR maintains that comprehensive electoral reform must rest on four pillars:

  1. A thorough review by GECOM of its performance in managing recent elections. The plethora of faults and irregularities (intended and unintended) in the 2020 elections alone must not be brushed under the carpet to resurface again. They must be swept out for good. To achieve this, a thorough and honest review must be conducted as a necessary first step. Here, we agree with GECOM Commissioner Vincent Alexander that GECOM itself must not conduct such a review but should commission it.
  2. National consultations, involving the public, civil society, and the parliamentary political parties. These must be modelled after the 1999/2000 Constitution Reform Commission process. In particular, key elements must include: a multi-stakeholder/expert committee, a consensus chairperson, a public call for oral and written submissions, and several national conversations (open forums).
  3. The in-depth involvement of experts on electoral laws, electoral systems, elections technologies, and elections management. We anticipate no difficulty in recruiting such expertise, given the international support for electoral reform in Guyana.
  4. Holistic constitutional and legislative amendments or enactments. The Opposition anticipates that electoral reform will require both constitutional and statutory amendments. We stand ready to lend parliamentary support to all agreed-to changes.

Time is of essence in initiating and completing these reforms to prevent extended postponement of local government elections. Once the PPP government demonstrates good faith, the financial, human, and other resources can be readily mobilized. Once all parties put Guyana first, delays can be minimized. Guyana deserves no less.

So convinced, the APNUAFC intends to formally raise with President Ali that the country needs to urgently undertake comprehensive electoral reform within a genuine national consultation process. My party will not support the autocratic imposition of changes to our electoral system. Accordingly, we reject the present PPP-led so-called national consultation on RoPA.

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