PPP signals “no” to PNCR’s call for house-to-house registration

Last Updated on Friday, 20 April 2018, 21:55 by Denis Chabrol

PPP GECOM Commissioners: (left to right) Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn and Bibi Safora Shadick

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) refused to back a call by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) for fresh house-to-house registration and instead said it prefers to contest local and general elections with the existing voters’ list rather than allow a delay.

“Having realized that its support is diminishing, this desperate call for a new house-to-house registration by the PNC three years hence, can only be seen as a deliberate attempt to postpone or even derail Local Government Elections (LGE) scheduled for later this year and General and Regional Elections constitutionally due in 2020,” the PPP said in a statement late Friday night.

The opposition party’s reaction came one day after PNCR General Secretary, Amna Ally called for house-to-house registration to address the PPP’s concerns about the cleanliness of the list of registrants. The last house-to-house registration was held in 2008 followed by several cycles of continuous registration.

Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECO), Keith Lowenfield has told Demerara Waves Online News that preparation, procurement of materials training of personnel and actual registration could take about one year and cost an estimated GYD$1 billion.

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira told Demerara Waves Online News earlier Friday night that she was baffled at the PNCR’s desire for house-to-house registration after cutting GECOM’s budget that had allocated funds for that process in 2017 and 2018.

“I don’t know if that’s what they are thinking- a postponement of the 2018 local government elections and maybe a postponement of the 2020 (general elections) so we have to consider all these issues…It is something that we have to consider. Who wants the PNC-APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) to be in (office) longer than they are supposed to be. We intend to win the 2020 elections and people have had enough and now to think we have to wait two years to get rid of them,” Teixeira said.

GECOM had in August 2016 agreed to conduct house-to-house registration beginning in July 2017. She noted that the almost two year absence of a GECOM Chairman might have contributed to a delay in that elections management authority deciding to push ahead with the new registration process.

Slamming the PNCR’s call for house-to-house registration as “diversionary tactics”, the PPP said the PNCR’s supporters were despondent and the party was now banking on going house to house. Having ignored our calls, the PNC, having completed almost three years in government, is now making calls for a new house-to-house registration. After the completion of two cycles of continuous registration and two periods of claims and objections, the PNC has discovered the harsh reality that its supporters are not heeding their calls to register,” the PPP stated.

Guyana’s general elections, which had been scheduled for 1990, had been pushed back to 1992 to allow for the then PNC-led administration of Desmond Hoyte to implement a number of reforms he had agreed to with the Carter Center’s former United States President, Jimmy Carter.