GECOM must be fixed before Local Govt Elections – President

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While Local Government Elections (LGE) are expected to be due next year, President Dr Irfaan Ali has cited the need for confidence to be restored to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), in light of the events that followed the March 2 General and Regional Elections.

President Ali was at the time being questioned on the sidelines of the swearing in of Chairmen and Vice Chairmen for the Regional Democratic Councils on Monday.

“What we have to do is to fix what is there first. We have to ensure we have a system that is working, a system that we can trust. A system that is professional and operates in an unbiased manner, so that the people of our country can have confidence,” Ali said.

He said that based on his engagements with the public, there is overriding concern that there could be a repeat of the events after the March 2 polls.

“I’ve received letters from many stakeholders in our country. And they all told me that they do not want to go back to the process they went through in those five months. And that is of uttermost importance in the minds of our people. And that is what we have to address,” he said.

“GECOM itself, that is an independent commission and they have to address this also. The COI (Commission of Inquiry) and so on would help to highlight weaknesses, challenges, opportunities, threats in ensuring that the system is fixed,” he added.

Local Government Elections were last held in 2018, which resulted in the PPP/C securing 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAA). It followed the holding of LGE in 2016, during which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs.

After the 2018 LGE, GECOM spent over a year trying to get ready for snap elections that should have been held within three months of the then A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) government falling to a No-Confidence Motion in December 2018.

GECOM finally held General and Regional elections on March 2nd 2020. But as if the previous delay was not enough, Guyanese were forced to wait another five months before the results could finally be declared by GECOM on August 2nd, 2020, after local and international pressure.

In the aftermath of the controversial five-month long elections, a number of high ranking GECOM officials have been investigated by the police and charged for misconduct in public office and forgery.