‘Heavy penalty’ for corrupt GECOM staff – Nandlall promises as electoral reform gets underway

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Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC, has said that he is determined to ensure that the events surrounding the 2020 regional and general elections are never repeated.

The assurance was offered as Nandlall clarified that government’s work to ensure electoral reform is achieved before the 2025 election has already begun.

Nandlall was speaking to the News Room shortly after the United States Department announced its support for an 18-month project to strengthen the capacity of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Attorney General’s Chambers regarding electoral processes.

Among the reforms is the creation of “serious criminal offences” to guard against violations of the electoral process by persons who have been entrusted with its integrity.

“Right now it doesn’t focus on electoral officials committing wrongs… the law presumes that the electoral machinery and process will be manned by people with integrity… but we all know that is a fallacy in Guyana,” he said.

Recounting the 5-month protracted election that Guyana endured in 2020, Nandlall said Guyanese have seen firsthand that it is the election officers who either compromised or attempted to compromise the system.

It is against this backdrop that he has promised a range of offences targeting those who man the election machinery and enjoys public trust.

“They must be dealt with condignly by the law,” he added.

Nandlall said these new offenses that will be put into law through the electoral reform process will also target persons who do not work within the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) but are found to be encouraging, participating or being the intellectual authors of electoral fraud.

“Those extrinsic of the system, once implicated and found guilty, will be penalized heavily,” he added.

The governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has always maintained that several persons within GECOM colluded to rig the elections to keep the APNU+AFC in office.

That led to a five-month-long delay in declaring the winner while political parties frequented the courts and were later involved in a national recount exercise.

The Attorney General said as the government ramps up its efforts to achieve electoral reform ahead of the next elections among the changes to be made to the law is for GECOM to be mandated to make all the Statements of Polls public within a specified time.

Nandlall assured that the reforms to be effected will not be in favor of any single political party.

 

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