Legislative changes stall GECOM’s preparation for LGE

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Keith Lowenfield, Chief Election Officer and Chairman of GECOM, Dr Steve Surujbally
Keith Lowenfield, Chief Election Officer and Chairman of GECOM, Dr Steve Surujbally
Keith Lowenfield, Chief Election Officer and Chairman of GECOM, Dr Steve Surujbally

[www.inewsguyana.com] – The December time frame promised by Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan for the hosting of Local Government Elections may not materialize, as the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) revealed that changes need to be made to the country’s legislation.

A press release from the Elections Body stated that the existing state of affairs relative to the conduct of Local Government Elections was discussed at a meeting between a Senior Team of GECOM led by Keith Lowenfield, Chief Election Officer (CEO) and a Senior Team of the Ministry of Communities led by Bulkan on Friday, August 28.

According to GECOM, the meeting was held at the request of the GECOM CEO to clarify issues of mutual concern to GECOM and the Ministry of Communities relative to the Elections.

“Specifically, Mr. Lowenfield made it abundantly clear that GECOM cannot proceed to prepare a Preliminary Lists of Voters for the conduct of Claims and Objections for the purpose of finalizing the respective Registers of Voters that will be necessary to conduct Local Government Elections in the 65 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and the six Municipalities in Guyana,” the release noted.

According to GECOM, the existing legislation relative to the preparation of the Preliminary List of Voters requires that the Lists be prepared from the Official List of Electors that was used for the 1992 General and Regional Elections.

“This legislation must be amended to clear the way for the Lists to be extracted from the up-to-date National Register of Registrants.”

GECOM further noted that the proposed (draft) amendment, among others, has already been prepared in one document which was discussed and fine-tuned between GECOM’s legal Officer and the Chief Parliamentary Counsel of the Ministry of Legal Affairs.

“The entire document will be by GECOM with the view to give the go ahead for the amendments to be taken to Parliament via the Government for approval. Accordingly, it is imperative that it be made abundantly clear that until and unless GECOM is given the legal authority to extract the Preliminary List of Voters, the Commission cannot move forward with its Work Plan for the conduct of Local Government Elections.”

Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan. [iNews' Photo]
Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan. [iNews’ Photo]
It was noted that Mr. Lowenfield pointed out to Minister Bulkan that, in addition to the need for the amendments to come into force, he (Minister Bulkan) in his capacity of Minister of Communities is required to issue an Order declaring the Local Authority Areas in which Local Government Elections will be held.

“Further, Mr. Lowenfield emphasized that (i) housing communities at the Municipalities of Corriverton, Anna Regina and the Bartica Neighbourhood Democratic Council had grown beyond their respective boundaries. He emphasized that the authority to extend the boundaries of these Local Authority Areas is vested in the Minister of Communities and urged that this matter be addressed with alacrity towards ensuring that the concerned citizens are given the opportunity to participate in the Local Government Elections.”

“In response to the CEO’s presentation, Minister Bulkan gave the assurance that his Ministry will move immediately after GECOM green-lights the draft amendments to have them approved by Parliament. Further, he gave the assurance that his Ministry will be focusing attention towards addressing the publication of the Order declaring the Local Authority Areas in which Local Government Elections will be held, as well as the concerning the boundaries of the Municipalities of Corriverton, Anna Regina and the Bartica NDC.”

The Ministerial Team included Mr. Emile McGarrell, Permanent Secretary and Mr. Derek Kowlessar, Advisor to the Minister. The GECOM Team included Mr. Vishnu Persaud – Deputy Chief Election Officer, Ms. Juanita Barker – Legal Officer and Mr. Duarte Hetsberger – Personal Assistant to the CEO.

4 COMMENTS

  1. SURUJBALLY looks like one of those old time guyanese living in the 1914….he need to immediately resign and make space for an individual with good skill, knowledge and understanding of the election systems used in north america. This guy types at the speed of an sloth! Make way for a younger individual who has good computer development skills to make the election system more efficient. Please do not replace him with Lowenfield as it would be like taking away the sloth and install a dankey cart to do a trucks job. The elections was clearly rigged and we if this guy has any morale within him, he will immediately resign!

  2. GECOM is in stone age. Information and technology has reached a stage where we all know how 500,000 vote can be counted in few minutes without rigging.

    We need to improve and impliment Electronic Voting Machines and counting should be fair and results declared as soon as possible.

    Manual counting and keeping results secret not allowing media to telecast live is shame on our system and denying the right of citizens their democratic right.

    We need a neutral and respectable EC.

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