LETTER: Appoint the GECOM Chairman and bring the Local Government Commission now

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Dear Editor,

Another constitutional crisis looms as the approaches to achieving Local Government ideals purposed by the Supreme Law of our Land, become further divorced by the methods of the APNU/AFC Government.

The recent abhorrent pronouncement by Ronald Bulkan, Minister with responsibility for Local Government that the non-appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commissions (GECOM) will have minimum effect, is a mouthful of gibberish which further fuels the situation and flies in the face of all sane and rational Guyanese.

No doubts exist that leading up to the last General and Regional Elections as well as the Local Government Elections (LGE), there were many prior problems which still remain unresolved. Contextually, these relate to the problematic, non-transparent administration of elections and other issues by GECOM. Other problems have since evolved further compounding matters, and these will certainly advance stronger impacts to the level of non-acceptance of results if not resolved.

The alarming statement from Bulkan, seeks to provide a measured acceptance that the many known problems could remain unattended. Among others, significant to the foregoing are:

  1. The displacement of and the need to update numerous voters on GECOM Register of Registrants, due to the movement to new housing areas developed under the PPP/C.
  2. The requirement for cleansing of the Voters list to remove deceased persons whose names have remained on the List for much too long.
  3. The addressing of the serious issues with boundaries for many Constituencies of Local Authority Areas.
  4. Ensuring that the employment and Training of GECOM staffs are balanced. Etc.

The fact is that nothing specifically is being done at GECOM in the absence of a Chairman and the outlined foregoing activities require time. In fact, all Guyanese and stakeholders must be made aware that at a recent GECOM meeting, Chief Executive Officer Mr Keith Lowenfield and the Deputy Chief Election Officer Vishnu Persaud categorically informed the invitees of the PPP and PNC that GECOM work is at a stand-still because there is no Chairman.

Further, participants of the meeting were told that all GECOM is doing presently, is distributing ID cards and some training to their staff. While it is obvious that the Guyana Election Commission is currently paralyzed and ineffective, other serious issues in the Local Government System are not being looked at. So Minister Bulkan’s reasoning seems in conflict with every other key stakeholder.

Local Authority Areas are extremely important to our people in this country. However, after the PPP/C won the Local Government Elections and the vast majority of Regional Democratic Councils, it is clear that the APNU/AFC coalition Government is doing everything to frustrate and stymie development in these areas. The unacceptable biased and power drunk approach to addressing issues continues unabated in LAAs where the APNU/AFC lost in the last LGE. This we know will be remembered by citizens at the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

The fact that Minister Ronald Bulkan alludes to the possible Local Government Commission having a role in the process is most farcical.

All citizens must know that the Local Government Commission is about delivering balanced service to the people through the Local Government Organs and not about Local Government Elections.

Mr Bulkan’s advisors need to guide him properly to avoid him been embarrassed every time he opens his mouth to pronounce on any matter of public and national interest. Or probably his advisors need to be advised on these issues to avoid him misleading this nation. However, the consistency of these actions makes one wonder whether it is a focused or deliberate act to misguide the populace as part of the Coalition’s propaganda.

The Minister should know better and avoid looking foolish as his colleague, Nicolette Henry, when she could not differentiate between Phagwah and Diwali. Mr. Bulkan should know the Commission cannot function at the Election’s body if there is no Chairman. He MUST be aware that relative to many of the outstanding issues, no decision should be taken without the Chairman and Commissioners approval.

It is a fact that the Administrative arm of the Guyana Election Commission can only embark on limited functions which are under their purview, as prior mentioned, that is, to distribute ID Cards and having refresher training for the staff members. The Election Commission is therefore handicapped without a Chairman as no Commission Meeting can be held, and this has been happening since the last 10 months, since Surujbally proceeded on leave and his subsequent demission of office.

Appoint the GECOM Chairman and bring the Local Government Commission now, not year-end.

Sincerely,

Neil Kumar

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