Reforms at GECOM, campaign financing laws needed – Elections CoI report

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The report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections said reforms at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and campaign financing laws are needed to strengthen the local election system.

The recommendations were detailed in the report handed over to President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Wednesday at the office of the President.

The first recommendation relates to reforming the structure of the elections commission.

“As it stands, the structure of GECOM is, at its core, politicised, making it difficult for it to operate with any efficiency or effectiveness.

“Consideration should be given to amending this to allow for more balanced participation from other organisations or professionals with technical expertise thereby reducing the politicisation of the electoral process,” the report stated.

It is important to note that earlier sections of the report, in clear terms, stated that former Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield, his deputy Roxanne Myers and the District Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo were involved in efforts to derail and corrupt the 2020 elections.

These GECOM officials were implicated in questionable and even unlawful behaviours throughout the report.

Beyond this, the report also said there are some ambiguities that exist in Guyana’s election laws that have left room for political manipulation. However, it acknowledged that the “major anomalies” have been addressed in the recently enacted Representation of the People (Amendment) Act.

Still, the report said all people eligible to vote must be allowed to exercise their franchise. As such, it was noted that legislation should be enacted to facilitate greater access to polling stations and the voting process for persons with various disabilities.

Importantly, the report pointed out that there is a lack of transparency and accountability regarding political parties and campaign financing.

“There is a strong need for such legislation as there is a perception that persons and/or corporations who give large donations stand to gain political favours,” the report said.

Currently, only Part XII of the Representation of the People’s Act deals with campaign financing.

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