Draft electoral reform legislation for circulation next week

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Draft legislation geared towards achieving electoral reform will be distributed to stakeholders by next week, President Irfaan Ali announced on Friday.

It comes more than a year after Dr. Ali was sworn in as President and promised to push the electoral reform agenda having already received the support to move the process along from several international partners.

Dr. Ali told reporters during a virtual press briefing that he held discussions with Attorney General Anil Nandlall earlier this week and instructed that the draft legislation be distributed.

Once that is done, there will be a six-week period for reviews and contributions.

Nandlall had said previously that he is determined to ensure that the events surrounding the 2020 regional and general elections are never repeated, assuring that electoral reform is achieved before the 2025 election.

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.

Recounting the 5-month protracted election that Guyana endured in 2020, he promised a range of offences targeting those who man the election machinery and enjoys public trust.

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.

The United States Department had 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.

The project will be implemented by the International Republican Institute.

Through this project, GECOM, the Attorney General’s Chambers, and Guyanese CSOs will collaboratively consolidate and improve local electoral and constitutional law knowledge, establish an internal timeline to address electoral reform, improve collaboration for joint advocacy actions, and prioritize electoral and constitutional law issues while promoting reform through citizen engagement.

The IRI promised to liaise with the Canadian High Commission as well as the Indian High Commission, both of whom have already pledged assistance to Guyana in this endeavor and will coordinate with those offices to avoid duplication and to ensure the best use of the resources are available.

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