Changes to election laws guaranteed before LGE this year – Jagdeo

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With Local Government Elections expected by year-end, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has announced that the government’s amendments to Guyana’s main elections law will secure Parliamentary approval before then.

Jagdeo, during a press conference held on Friday, said that the amendments to the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) would be tabled in the National Assembly at the end of the ongoing Parliamentary recess. That recess should conclude in October.

The Vice President was certain, in his comments, that the amendments to this Act “will be passed before Local Government Elections.”

Earlier this week, Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh said that the commission hopes that by the end of November or early December the overdue polls will be run off.

Once the amendments are tabled in the House, it will have to be debated and voted upon. Jagdeo seemed sure that the government’s majority in the National Assembly would allow the amendments to be passed without delay.

In the aftermath of the March 2020 general and regional elections during which attempts were made at rigging the results, the PPP/C government has embarked on a process of amending ROPA.

The draft of the proposed amendments to this Act has been published online.

Jagdeo previously said that public recommendations on the amendments were received and used to redraft the amendments.

During Friday’s press conference, held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre at Liliendaal, Jagdeo highlighted some of the key amendments. These include removing the discretionary powers of the Chief Elections Officer, making public all manuals and training material for GECOM staff three months before the elections, and identifying polling stations long before elections are held.

Importantly, Jagdeo also said that the amendments will require GECOM to post all statements of polls on its website.

Penalties for electoral fraud and the formal division of Region Four into four sub-districts are also among the proposed amendments.

Previously, Jagdeo had said that the government would be happy if the country’s election laws could be amended before going to the polls for local government elections.

He said that will allow for a test run of the amendments ahead of national elections set for 2025.

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