The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has expressed concern that the APNU/AFC coalition is preparing to either set aside or rig next year’s March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
This comes in light of a revelation following Tuesday’s statutory meeting that the Government-nominated Commissioners at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are attempting to disenfranchise thousands of Guyanese.
One way in which they are seeking to do this is by removing more than 20,000 persons from the voters’ list after they failed to uplift their National identification (ID) cards since 2008.
According to the PPP in a statement on Wednesday, the Government Commissioners are shamelessly attempting to reinstitute the use of an ID card as a qualification to vote – a measure that the current GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, had ruled was illegal and unconstitutional back in 1998 in the Esther Pereira case.
Pereira, a PNC supporter, had petitioned the High Court to set aside the results of the 1997 elections. Justice Singh ruled that the requirement for voters to have a voter ID card in 1997 was ultra vires Articles 59 and 159 of the Constitution (despite a parliamentary agreement to use the cards).
Moreover, the Opposition went on to point out that the removal of names from the Official List of Electors (OLE) simply because these persons did not uplift their ID cards is illegal and contrary to the recent ruling of Chief Justice Roxane George.
Back in August, the Chief Justice ruled that persons cannot be removed from the voters’ list unless they are dead or otherwise disqualified to vote under Article 159 (2) (3) or (4).
“From the foregoing, it is clear that the APNU/AFC is preparing the ground either to set aside the entire elections as illegal and unconstitutional, when they lose, or by rigging the elections by disenfranchising tens of thousands of Guyanese electors,” the PPP contended.
The Opposition noted that the Government-nominated Commissioners at GECOM continue to obstinately pursue an agenda to disenfranchise the Guyanese electorate and deny them their democratic and constitutional right to vote for a government of their choice at the 2020 polls.
This agenda, the party noted, is more so reflected in their other latest proposal to highlight on the OLE, the names of persons who did not participate in the now scrapped House-to-House Registration exercise but are on the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE).
Even more ridiculous, the PPP outlined is the fact that they want those persons who did not re-register to now come forward and do a “verification” and if this is not done, it could result in their names being highlighted on the OLE.
Government Commissioner Vincent Alexander had explained on Tuesday that this would be done to put staff at the polling stations on “high alert” on the March 2, 2020 elections day to ensure no multiple or substitute voting takes place.
But according to the PPP, “These ingenious measures are clearly intended to unlawfully empower GECOM staff on Elections Day to illegally disenfranchise tens of thousands of registered electors. These proposals are not only outrageous and unsound, but they are absolutely illegal as they are not provided for in any of the statutory processes, nor can they be the lawful basis to prevent a registered elector from voting”.
To date, the Opposition noted that GECOM has not even yet explained how the data generated by the House-to-House Registration exercise, that is some 370,000 registrants, will be merged into the PLE or how it would become the subject of the ongoing 42-day Claims and Objections process, which commenced on October 1.
“These are important statutory processes imposed by law to safeguard the integrity of the OLE and vital to the delivery of credible elections. Instead of working out the details of these important processes and making them public, the Government Commissioners continue to pursue mechanisms to contaminate, pervert and illegitimatise the electoral machinery,” the PPP asserted.
Nevertheless, the Opposition assures Guyanese that it will continue to expose these mischievous endeavours and struggle to correct them as the party continues the battle for democratic, free and fair elections in March 2020.