Local Government Elections by year-end; GECOM Chair unfazed by APNU+AFC criticism
With the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) concluding its continuous registration process and heading to its claims and objections exercise, Local Government Elections (LGE) is expected to be held by year-end.
Assurances were given on Tuesday by Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh who said that the commission is looking at the end of November or early December for the elections to be held.
Justice (Ret’d) Singh was at the time speaking at the sidelines of the swearing-in of the newly appointed commissioner of GECOM, Clement Rohee at the Office of the President in Georgetown.
Responding to claims by the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition of a bloated voters’ list, she said the names on the list were legally registered and the claims and objections exercise would allow persons to object to any irregularities.
“If the list is bloated well, we are moving now to claims and objections and people would have a chance to object to who is not supposed to be there,” she said.
When questioned by reporters on criticisms alleging that she appears to make decisions that seem to sideline the opposition, Justice (Ret’d) Singh responded that her decisions are in accordance with the law.
“I am not aware that I do something like that, anything I do, I do in accordance with the law, I try, as a former judge, I always try to uphold the rule of law but there will be criticisms,” she said.
She further explained, “if you sit on the bench and make an adverse decision the party who loses would say you’re biased, you take a bribe whatever but that’s it so there’s always a way you can criticise a decision, that’s up to them.”
The claims and objections exercise will commence on August 22, 2022 and eligible persons can make a claim on or before September 11, 2022 to be included on the official list of electors, providing that they were not previously registered.
Meanwhile, objections against the inclusion of names in the preliminary list of electors can be tendered to the Registration Officer of the registration area from August 22, 2022 to September 15, 2022.
Objections can be made by an elector who is listed in the same division list or sub-division list in which the person being objected to is listed.
Despite the government’s desire to have the LGE before the end of 2021 when it was constitutionally due, the unreadiness of the country’s electoral body had caused the elections to be postponed last year.
A total of $783 million was allocated for LGE and approved by the National Assembly during the consideration of the 2022 Budget Estimates in February this year.
Monies were also allocated in the 2021 Budget for LGE but those elections were not held, as top government officials maintained that issues at GECOM needed to be fixed.
Among the issues was the need for replacements for top GECOM staff including the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and his Deputy Roxane Myers. Lowenfield and Myers had been fired.