GECOM facilitating increase in number of possible seats APNU, AFC could win in LGE- PPP GS

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…says Party will be filing a court action to challenge the actions taken by GECOM

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has described as partisan the actions of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) whom his Party, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has accused of encouraging the gerrymandering of boundaries to favour the A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) coalition Government.

According to Jagdeo, attempts made by the PPP-nominated GECOM Commissioners to question these actions were shut down and the Commissioners were not given a hearing.

Jagdeo pointed out that changing the number of Local Authority Areas (LAAs) is the privilege of Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan, but it is the role of GECOM to constitute new LAAs where they are created, and reconstitute existing ones where they have been changed.

He stressed that in seeking to undertake such, it must be done fairly and in consultation with political stakeholders.

This, according to him, has not been the case. Jagdeo pointed to a few examples, in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supernaam), Region Three (Essequibo Islands- West Demerara) and in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).

Jagdeo explained that in the Evergreen/ Paradise LAA (Region 2), Constituencies Eight and Nine were merged and have a total of 692 voters; but Constituencies Five and Six, with 503 voters, were not merged.

He noted that the PPP won in Constituencies Eight and Nine and APNU+AFC won in Constituencies Five and Six.

Meanwhile, in the Malgre Tout/ Meer Zorgen LAA (Region 3), Constituencies Five and Six were merged and have a total of 1, 0714 voters; but Constituencies One and Two, with 829 voters, were not merged.

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (Retd.) Justice James Patterson

Again, the PPP won in Constituencies Four and Six and the APNU+AFC won in Constituencies One and Two.

Further, in the Woodland/Farm LAA (Region 6), Constituencies One and Two were merged and have a total of 990 voters; but Constituencies Eight and Nine, with 851 voters, were not merged.

The PPP also won in Constituencies One and Two, and the APNU+AFC won in Constituencies Eight and Nine.

Jagdeo explained that by merging the Constituencies where the PPP won, GECOM is reducing the number of seats won by the PPP in that particular LAA.

He said by not merging the Constituencies where the APNU+AFC won, where there are less voters, GECOM is providing for an increase in the number of possible seats APNU and AFC could win, based on the results at the 2016 Local Government Elections.

“This is the fairness we are getting from GECOM,” the PPP General Secretary (GS) complained.

He said that in light of these issues, the PPP will be filing a court action to challenge the actions taken by GECOM, but the party will contest the 2018 Local Government Elections set for November 12.

Minister Bulkan has announced the creation of one new township and eight new Neighbourhood Democratic Councils – an increase of nine LAAs, bringing the total LAAs to 80.

By doing this, the PPP has asserted, the Minister has failed to observe the constitutional provisions enshrined in Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution.

One of the coalition’s Members of Parliament (MP), Richard Allen, was recently accused of forming a Community Development Council (CDC) within a tilted Amerindian community in Four Miles, Region One (Barima-Waini).

The Party has posited that “Government is clearly unconcerned about the post-election consequences to these communities, and are focused on their overriding objective to ensure they aren’t slaughtered in the 2018 LGE as they were in the 2016 LGE.”

The PPP captured more than 60 per cent of the local democratic organs at the last LGE. It won seven of the 10 Regional Democratic Councils at that very last election.

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