GECOM Chair urged to take actions against fraudulent lists

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…cautioned against engaging partisan organisations

In about two weeks’ time, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be hosting Nominations Day ahead of the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections, and the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is urging the body to take strong, and even criminal, actions against any party that presents a list obtained by fraudulent means.

On Nomination Day, ahead of the November 2018 Local Government Elections (LGE), dozens of lists of names and signatures purporting to be backers of candidates were palpably defective because of forgeries.

In fact, some the 50 persons of the Whim-Bloomfield Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) in Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) had their names fraudulently affixed to the backers’ lists for LGE in the Ancient County. They claimed that they were tricked into signing an Alliance for Change (AFC) nominators’ list to contest the local government polls.

This led the PPP to file legal actions to have the names removed. However, High Court Judge, Justice Navindra Singh, dismissed the cases saying that after investigations, he did not find any evidence to convince him that the nominators were forced to sign the list.

Claudette Singh, CCH

As such, with preparations ongoing for the upcoming Nominations Day to be held on January 10, 2020, General Secretary of the PPP Bharrat Jagdeo is calling on the GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh to take stern action or bring in the Police on those who misled persons to go on their lists as was done in 2018.

“So people who had no association with [AFC] ended up being candidates on their lists and backers of their lists. And so stern action, in fact, criminal action, is taken against any party that tries to fraudulently put people as backers and as candidates,” Jagdeo contended.

In preparation for Nominations Day, GECOM earlier this month opened entries for political parties wishing to contest the 2020 polls to submit their party symbols.

Parties contesting the elections are required to submit a symbol for approval by GECOM before Nominations Day.

While the two main political parties, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition have been gearing up for next year’s polls, there have been the formation of several new and small parties over the past months.

These include: A New and United Party (ANUG), Federal United Party (FED UP), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), Citizenship Initiative (CI) and Change Guyana.

At a press conference in November, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of GECOM, Yolanda Ward, had disclosed that some 15 political parties are likely to contest the upcoming General and Regional Elections.

Partisan bodies

Meanwhile, as preparations continue for polls in two months’ time, the PPP General Secretary is also urging the Elections Commission to stay away from engaging partisan bodies such as the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA).

GECOM had disclosed that it will be working along with the GNBA as part of media monitoring efforts for upcoming elections.

But Jagdeo believes this should be done.

“GECOM should hire its own media monitoring unit and deal with it independently of any of these agencies [and] staffed by and with Boards that are partisan,” he contended.