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Govt, opposition split on extending Claims and Objections to voters’ list

Last Updated on Thursday, 21 August 2014, 18:27 by GxMedia

The governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has asked the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to extend the deadline for Claims and Objections to the preliminary voters list because of the overwhelming number of transfers but the two main opposition parties have poured cold water on the idea.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon said Thursday that government did not believe that the Claims and Objections period that lasts from August 4 to 31 would be sufficient to ensure a “clean list.”

While Luncheon stressed that he had not seen the government’s letter that has been sent to the elections management authority, he opined that based on the workload the Claims and Objections period should be extended by at least another two weeks. “The concerns that the administration has and these deal primarily with transfers and the volume of transfers for which we harbour a fear that they will not be dealt with properly in this short period that remain, I suspect that the request may very well be associated with a minimum of one to two weeks time frame,” he told a news conference.

But a GECOM source said the PPP’s General Secretary, Clement Rohee has written asking for a seven-day extension. The Commission would have to consider the request before making a decision.

General Secretary of the Alliance For Change (AFC), David Patterson told Demerara Waves Online News that his party would not support any tactic by the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) to delay the holding of general and regional elections between now and January, 2015.  Unlike the need for persons to reside in their constituencies for Local Government Elections, Patters on argued that was not compulsory for general and regional elections. “We are having a no-confidence motion and we are going to a general election and we are not going to be in agreement to anything that will delay general election after our no-confidence motion. There is more than enough time now for GECOM to do all that so the PPP is clutching at straws,” he said.

President Donald Ramotar could opt to call the elections before the AFC-sponsored no-confidence motion is debated and passed by the combined opposition’s 33 seats in early October. If the motion goes to the vote, elections would have to be called within 90 days of its passasge.

A Partnership for National Unity’s (APNU) point-man on elections, Winston Felix said that while his party has not received such a request, his parliamentary coalition would most likely not support an extension of the Claims and Objections Period. “We would not be inclined. When GECOM brings it to us, then they will have a general consensus as to whether we are going in that direction or not,” Felix told Demerara Waves Online News.

He, however, added that APNU would be willing to consider a proposal by GECOM for the deadline to be pushed back.

The PPP has in recent weeks been questioning the composition of the voters list, saying that so far its field staff has found 78,000 names mostly in APNU strongholds. GECOM’s Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally has said that the commission would be willing to consider the complaint if the evidence is submitted.

Surujbally believes that the high number of registrants is partly due to an increased number of persons acquiring birth certificates, migration from one part of the country to another and greater advocacy by GECOM and political parties.