Public trust in the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Secretariat has been eroded significantly and the electoral machinery must first of all be fixed before there is any talk about commencing the process to have a new voters’ list.
This view was expressed by President Irfaan Ali during a recent interview with reporters; Nazima Raghubir and Denis Chabrol at the President’s Office.
“Before we get a voters’ list, you have to have a system that the population has trust in, you can’t have a system where there is very little trust in that system. And the trust in the Secretariat at GECOM has been eroded significantly,” the President said in the video posted on his office Facebook page.
He asserted that as a country, Guyana would need to put the necessary safeguards in place at the Secretariat, since, “that is the system that would give you the end product, that is the system that will be in charge of giving you a voters list.”
The Head of State reminded that it was on this basis that the Government announced that it would take steps to have an International Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the events during and after the March 2 General and Regional Elections.
“That is why we said we have to get an international COI; to go in there and independently bring to us and highlight to us what occurred, where the weaknesses are and where the holes were”.
In response to a question about the Government being viewed as overreaching its powers; President Ali said; “it would never be overreaching when you want to protect democracy and the people”.
“We want the system to be fixed, because the system tried to take away the will of the people…the system tried to derail democracy…(and) tried to destroy Guyana’s credibility internationally,” he asserted.
Over the weekend, President Ali hinted that the panel for the COI could be drawn from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of American States (OAS) and Commonwealth.
“Definitely I think the Region would have to play a part, but we have also gotten requests from many of the international organisations – OAS, Commonwealth and so on…these are all organisations that played a key role (in fighting for Guyana’s democracy)”.
“So between the OAS, Commonwealth and CARICOM, I think we will have a great opportunity to determine a good panel to look at the COI”.
The President had also pointed to the need for electoral and constitutional reforms to avoid “brinkmanship” and a recurrence of the high level of political crisis that gripped the country from March to August this year.
However, he noted that such a process would have to be driven through consultation with citizens getting an opportunity to have a say in the changes they would like to see implemented.
He had highlighted that while the composition of the GECOM Commission is one issue that would have to be addressed, what occurred post March 2 polls goes beyond the Commission as the electoral machinery itself was compromised.