The A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is yet to confirm if they will participate in next year’s Local Government Elections (LGE). At the same time, however, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton insists that the party will not allow the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) to take over its strong holds.
During a press conference on Tuesday, the Opposition Leader was insistent that the party will not allow its strongholds to fall into the PPP/C’s hands. At the time, he was asked if APNU will follow its coalition partner Alliance For Change (AFC) and not contest LGE which are due next year.
According to Norton, however, APNU is in a different position from the smaller party and has to protect its strongholds. Norton mentioned Georgetown, New Amsterdam and Linden as electoral areas that APNU does not want to lose to the PPP/C.
“The AFC is a political party that has a right to decide if it wants to go, if it wants to go in coalition or it doesn’t want to go at all. That is their right and they have exercised that right. In terms of the APNU, we are in a different position. We will engage and then we will determine what is in the best interest of our people.”
“For instance, we have strongholds in Linden. We have strongholds in New Amsterdam. In Bartica. In Mahdia. And in the last election, we beat the PPP in Rose Hall. Now, what is the PPP hope? They hope no one will go and they get all the seats and dominate and control this entire society. We will protect our strongholds. How we do it, we will disclose once we complete all our analysis.”
With March 13, 2023 set as the date for Local Government Elections, the PPP/C is the only major political party that has signalled an intention to participate. On Sunday, the AFC announced that it would not be participating in the elections, if the list remains as is.
The party claimed that the list of electors is ‘bloated’, an often-repeated claim of its coalition partner, APNU. The party also echoed concerns of its partner, which is yet to confirm if it will participate in LGE, that the list contains the names of Guyanese who migrated.
According to the Constitution of Guyana and previous court cases, however, Guyanese who have migrated cannot be removed from the list of electors since residency of Guyanese citizens is not a requirement to vote.
This was demonstrated since 2019, when Chief Justice (ag), Roxane George ruled that the removal of the names of persons from the list of registrants, who were not resident in Guyana and could not participate in the House-to-House Registration exercise, would be unconstitutional. Her decision was subsequently upheld in the Court of Appeal.
The requirements for a person to vote, as set out in Articles 59 and 159 of the Constitution, are that that person must be 18 years or older, and must be a Guyanese citizen or a Commonwealth citizen resident and domiciled in Guyana.
The AFC also said in their statement that the electoral system is not perfect and that they were not willing to “perpetuate a deception”. They further said that they would support postponing LGE until their definition of a “clean” voters’ list is arrived at.
AFC’s pull-out from contesting LGE comes at a time when the smaller party is already receiving diminished returns whenever it goes to the polls. Such was the case in 2018, when the party, then part of the APNU/AFC coalition Government, was forced to contest LGE on its own. It ended up securing just four per cent of the total votes cast.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has already designated December 12, 2022, as nomination day for the upcoming LGE, which are set to be held next year March. On nomination day, parties make their way to a designated location, where their representatives are usually required to submit their list of candidates to the Chief Election Officer, as well as sign on to the required documents, such as a code of conduct, to contest the elections.