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GECOM still haggling over backers’ requests for removal

Even as two Guyana Elections Commissioners prepare to leave for Canada on Saturday to observe the printing of ballot papers and other election materials, the seven-member body was up to late Friday haggling over how to deal with a number of requests by backers of candidates.

“The issue is still one that is contentious and not fully determined,” a well-placed Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) source told Demerara Waves Online News. The Commission is due to meet again on Tuesday in the hope of resolving those issues.

Local Government Elections are scheduled for November 12, 2018.

The official said the issue of whether persons named as backers could send someone with only affidavit to ask that their names be removed was yet to be decided on. The source believed that the backers should go to the Returning Officers themselves with the affidavits or send them with other persons whom they have appointed.

However, Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-nominated commissioner, Sase Gunraj told Demerara Waves Online News that Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield had decided that the representatives and deputy representatives could submit those objections by Wednesday, September 26 on behalf of those objecting to be named as nominators.  Gunraj, however, said in some instances a number of Returning Officers have refused to accept those affidavits.

“Two or three days ago, they are saying that these persons did not meet the statutory deadline and, as a consequence, we are not removing your name as a candidate. That is nonsense so I believe that we are almost facilitating this fraud that is being perpetrated on the electorate of Guyana and the Guyana Elections Commission,” Gunraj said. He added that a number of Returning Officers had rejected the affidavits although the deponents had also turned up.

That source said the objections to backers for Alliance For Change (AFC) and United Republican Party (URP) candidates have come mainly from the opposition PPP in 12 of the 80 Local Authority Areas. “This comes against the background of the AFC saying they are being bullied by the PPP,” the official said.

The anonymous GECOM source said the PPP has since withdrawn from contesting in one of the constituencies on Wakenaam Island, Essequibo River. A Partnership for National Unity activist, Ganesh Mahipaul had publicly cited the inclusion of the names of dead persons and others who had claimed that they had not backed the candidates on the PPP’s list.

Gunraj could not immediately confirm that withdrawal, but said an unknown number of candidates had been removed from a number of lists of nominees.

Gunraj refused to confirm that himself and colleague Commissioner, Charles Corbin but other sources in the administration of the elections management authority said the two are due to leave for Canada on Saturday to oversee the printing of ballots, statements of poll and other material. Those have been printed overseas since the historic 1992 elections , following years of concerns about the printing of those items at the state-owned Guyana National Printers Limited.

The AFC, APNU  and the PPP have been leveling accusations at each other that nominators/ backers of candidates  have been duped into signing their names, never signed their names or a number of signatories are fake because the named persons have died.