December 12 is Nomination Day for LGE polls

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The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has designated December 12, 2022, as Nomination Day for the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), which are set to be held next year March.

GECOM announced the Nomination Day date in a notice that also called for parties to submit their symbols. On Nomination Day, parties make their way to a designated location, where their representatives are usually required to submit their List of Candidates to the Chief Election Officer, as well as sign on to the required documents, such as a code of conduct, to contest the elections.

These representatives are usually accompanied by a large retinue of their supporters, dressed in party colours, although all the parties who submit symbols do not always make a grand entrance or even come at all.

According to the notice, contesting parties, voluntary groups and individuals must submit their symbols by November 12, 2022, in accordance with section 48 (1) of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, Cap 28:03. The law requires that these symbols be submitted at least 21 days before Nomination Day.

“Political parties, voluntary groups and individuals in outlying Local Authority Areas (LAAs) may submit their symbol to the Registration Officer at the GECOM Registration Office in their area.”

“A list of candidates submitted by any political party, voluntary group or individual candidate on Nomination Day must be accompanied by the pre-approved symbol, as this is required for the publication of the list,” the notice said. Under Section 51 of the Local Authority (Election) Act, none can contest the election without submitting their symbol.
Parties such as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), have already signalled their readiness to contest the upcoming LGE. As far back as August, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo, who is the General Secretary of the PPP/C, had said that the party is in preparation mode for LGE.

“We’re already gone on an election footing. We’d be ready where elections are held this year or next year. We don’t control when that happens, GECOM does but we’d be ready at any time,” the Vice President had stated during a press conference.

“GECOM would have to write indicating when they are ready. But [in] the People’s Progressive Party, I speak as General Secretary, I’ve already convened a meeting and we’ve already started working on our organisational structures around the country. We’ve put our party in a readiness mode,” he had posited.

But with LGE just months away, there has been much uncertainty regarding the Opposition’s participation in the polls. Leader of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Opposition, Aubrey Norton has said that they will not participate in and also threatened to block any elections from being held if the voters’ list is not cleansed.

Since losing the March 2020 elections, the coalition Opposition has been claiming that the voters’ list is bloated. This is despite GECOM already conducting Claims and Objections, a legally mandated method of cleansing the list.

The exercise captured more than 3000 new applicants who will be eligible to vote by October 31, 2022, with only 18 objections to names on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).

And based on a 2019 High Court ruling, GECOM cannot remove any person from the National Register of Registrants (NRR) – from which the voters’ list is compiled – unless they are dead or otherwise disqualified under Article 159 (2), (3) and (4) of the Constitution.

There is also no confirmation on whether AFC will seek to contest the LGE alone or in the coalition. AFC was famously forced to contest the 2018 LGE alone without its coalition partner and ended up securing just 4 per cent of the total votes cast.

At a press conference over a week ago, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan had told the media that its National Executive Committee will reveal position the party’s position on LGE after consultations, slated before 2023.

LGE, which are usually due every two years, was last held in 2018. At the last LGE in November 2018, the then PPP/C Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). This followed the holding of the LGE in 2016, during which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs.