GECOM to discuss coalition’s calls for supporters to mobilise at polling stations

Chairperson of GECOM Justice Claudette Singh

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will on February 4, 2020 discuss the issue of the incumbent administration urging supporters to mobilise at polling stations, an act which is an elections offence.

The issue was raised by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall in a letter to the Commission’s Chairperson Justice Claudette Singh.

Justice Singh responded on Wednesday, informing that his letter will be “an item for discussion on the agenda” at the next statutory meeting.

In his letter to the Chairperson, Nandlall – who is also a candidate of the main political opposition, the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) – singled out a number of the coalition’s candidates who have been encouraging supporters to “protect their ballot”.

Among those names are People’s National Congress (PNC) Chairperson Volda Lawrence, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, Attorney General Basil Williams and former Guyana Defence Force Chief of Staff, Gary Best.

The PNC Chairperson, at a public meeting in Kitty, Georgetown, on January 19, told supporters: “When 6 o’clock hit, comrades, you supposed to already have your bath and put on your nightshift clothing…You understand what I am saying, comrades? This is not a time for sleeping…They must not catch us sleeping on the job. Comrades, at 6 o’clock, you return to work at the places of polling and you will remain out there and let our staff inside know that you’re out there…And then our nice strong men will be mobilised to follow that ballot box until it goes into that container and the APNU/AFC padlock and chain is placed on that container…”

In his letter, Nandlall reminded that violence and riotous behaviours are commonly associated with the conduct of elections of Guyana. He reminded Justice Singh of such instances during the conduct of the 2015 General and Regional Elections when the car of PPP/C candidate Joseph Hamilton was torched, as well as a polling place in Sophia.

He also reminded of Section 78(A) of the Representation of the People’s Act Cap 1:03 which makes it a criminal offence for any unauthorised person to obstruct or interfere with the conveyance of election materials, ballot boxes, and ballot papers.

Nandlall, therefore, pleaded with GECOM to publicly denounce the statements, as well as reassure the electorate that such activities would not be tolerated.

Just over the weekend, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield reminded that it is the responsibility of the Police and not supporters to secure ballot boxes.