2021 budget to cater for Local Government Elections- Jagdeo

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The national budget for 2021 will include allocations for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to prepare for Local Government Elections (LGE), but the government continues to maintain that the poll must not be managed by those who attempted to rig the March 2020 elections.

“Let me just say clearly that the People’s Progressive Party wants Local Government Elections (LGE) next year. We believe that we can do extremely well in Local Government Elections and we’re gonna be working really hard –COVID or not –to ensure that we improve the lives of people in their communities right across this country,” Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo affirmed.

He was speaking at a press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Center on Friday.

He noted that next year’s budget will have resources to prepare for LGE, which he is sure the PPP will win.

“We want to win the Local Government Elections, we want to make sure that people have the right to choose their leaders in the local areas, we’re going to provide resources to prepare for Local Government Elections.”

But before setting a date for the next LGE, the Vice President said the PPP/C has no confidence in the current embattled Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxane Myers and others who are tasked with running the poll.

Lowenfield is before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on six charges: three counts of misconduct in public office and three counts of forgery. Myers was slapped with two counts of misconduct in public office while several other GECOM staff, including Returning Officer for District Four, Clairmont Mingo are facing charges related to electoral fraud.

Jagdeo maintained calls by his party for the “criminal elements” to be removed.

“We have no confidence with criminals running the system and so we’re expecting that the Commission will get rid of the criminals who they don’t need any evidence [against].

“The whole country knows that these are criminal types who try to steal the election and put this country through a trauma- hardcore criminal, in your face type of criminal,” Jagdeo said.

He added that “they cannot run any election and…the chair of the Commission has to fight against the criminals…who [fought] to undermine the elections and the outcome.”

Calls were made by the APNU+AFC opposition to conduct another round of house to house registration before Guyanese go to the polls again, but Jagdeo referred to the 2019 court ruling which restricts the removal of persons from the National Register of Registrants.

He said this is “a constitutional hurdle” which can be dealt with by having new elections officers and a robust system in place to ensure only those eligible to vote, can vote.

Jagdeo said the PPP also supports a system which uses the General Registrar Office’s information to remove dead persons from the voters’ list in a timely manner.

The results of the 2018 LGE showed the PPP/C won 122,307 (61%) votes of the votes cast followed by the APNU which won 68,060 (34%) votes. The AFC garnered 8,719 (4%) votes while the other small parties received 2,995 (1%) votes.

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