In light of recent developments in Region One (Barima-Waini), Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is calling for an audit to be done on the digitisation of records at the General Registrar’s Office (GRO).
Jagdeo’s comments came in light of recent pronouncements made by Citizenship Minister Winston Felix, who claimed that the process is transparent and one that does not include partisanship.
However, the Opposition Leader feels that there might be attempts to fiddle with the registration process at the GRO using the digitization of records as the cover for “fictitious names being registered, which could then be used, (seeing) that it is registered with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).”
Jagdeo said he would also urge GECOM to pay careful attention to the issue, because the integrity of that entity’s data base would depend heavily on the source documents being issued by the GRO.
“But (it is) not just GECOM that has to worry, but all the foreign embassies and everyone else; because if people have fake Guyanese documents and some of them are not Guyanese, they pass through here and just get the fake documents for the purpose of registration, they can eventually secure passports and a whole range of other documents,” Jagdeo opined.
The Opposition Leader is asserting that the integrity of the disgitisation process is vital.
“We in the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) are paying careful attention to this, given what has happened historically — that the heavy padding of the voters list with fictitious names was a norm under previous Government sometime back in our history,” Jagdeo recalled.
He also reminded that the Opposition is still concerned with the Government’s closeness with groups of people, including Haitians who pass through Guyana. He said that from reports that he has received, these foreign nationals are mainly chaperoned through Guyana by Government officials.
“It’s normal for people to transit your country, but they don’t have ministry officials meeting them when they are transiting. They just come in, they get stamp in at immigration and (then) they go out,” he added.
Jagdeo said encounters with Government officials and Haitians transiting Guyana’s main port of entry are something that does not look too convincing, and there might be something happening.
Region One Chairman, Brentnol Ashley, has only recently raised concerns about the active participation and involvement of Government Member of Parliament (MP) Richard Allen in the affairs and functions of several State agencies and elected bodies in the Region.
Ashley complained about MP Allen’s active involvement with the GRO visiting team issuing birth certificates in the Region, and had noted that the MP was not employed at any of those agencies.
With Local Government Elections due this year, birth registration documents are critical for the registration of voters, and in the past, the toshaos and other community leaders had been the ones who worked with the GRO team, since they were knowledgeable about the eligibility of residents in their communities.