Opposition supports int’l help on electoral reforms in Guyana

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Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has indicated that the APNU/AFC Coalition will support any assistance provided by the Government of Canada to reform Guyana’s electoral systems.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall recently announced that the Government of Guyana is seeking the assistance of the Canadian Government to help reform its electoral legislation.

During a press conference today, Harmon was asked to respond to these developments. In fact, Harmon pointed out that Canada has always demonstrated a willingness to provide any form of assistance to Guyana.

“Canada has been one country that has helped us significantly in this. In fact, I believe it is the leading country with respect to aid to Guyana. I know that for many years, the Canadians have looked at our electoral system to see how best it can facilitate the early declaration of results. I think it is in that area that they are focused on,” Harmon said.

“I recall in the period 2011-2015, they brought in several machines to utilise to see how best it can be utilised to ensure that we can have from the close of poll until you have a declaration is significantly reduced.

“And as far as I am aware, that was the extent to which the Canadians were involved. I am not sure what else they are looking at. What will be important is funding for electoral reform and the work which has to be done with respect to any changes which has to be done with the Constitution,” he added.

Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall

Nandlall had explained that, with regards to electoral reforms, systems must be put in place to ensure that Statements of Poll (SOPs) are published by the respective political parties on a website and made public within hours of receipt.

Moreover, he said 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.