Govt seeks Canada’s help in electoral reform

Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Lillian Chaterjee and Attorney General Anil Nandlall

The Government of Guyana is seeking the assistance of the Canadian Government to help reform its electoral legislation, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall has said.

The Attorney General said Tuesday that electoral reform will ensure the tragedy which unfolded after the March 2 General and Regional Elections never recurs.

Speaking on his weekly live Facebook programme “Issues in the News,” AG Nandlall said he has already raised the issue with Canada’s High Commissioner Lilian Chatterjee, for experts to assist Guyana in this process.

“The Government has committed to looking at the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and other pieces of legislations to reform them to cover all the loopholes that have been exploited by the political fraudsters after the elections,” Nandlall said.

Among the proposed reforms, the AG said, is ensuring that Statements of Poll (SOPs) are published by the respective political parties on a website and made public within hours of receipt.

Efforts will also be made to ensure oversight mechanisms are in place to scrutinise the work of the Returning Officers (RO), thereby guarding against the declaration of false results by rogue officers.

The proposals also include a system where employment procedures and practices are used to ensure the best candidates are selected to work at elections, and to also have fixed qualifications, character references and testimonials for those officials.

It is also seeking to ensure that there is a heavy penal system accompanying electoral offences that will deter any official from doing wrong during the elections.

“All these matters are under review by my Ministry and I need as much technical assistance that I can get and Canada has rendered significant support to our electoral process over the past few years. The High Commissioner indicated her Government’s commitment to assist us in that regard,” AG Nandlall said.

Canada had been very vocal during Guyana’s electoral dispute, joining with other ABC countries in condemning the former APNU+AFC administration for attempting to derail the country’s democracy.

The former Government was accused of holding on to power when it was clear it had lost the elections.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General commended the Guyana Police Force (GPF) for what he said is its professional approach to the ongoing investigation into the protracted period following the March 2 elections.

Several high-level Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have been charged. The AG said more criminal charges will be instituted against suspects.

The AG underscored that the PPP/C administration is not involved in the investigations, but the GPF is being guided by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP). [Extracted and Modified from the Department of Public Information]