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Jagdeo calls on GECOM Chairman to explain planned removal of names from voters list

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 October 2019, 7:36 by Writer

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo led a delegation into a meeting with the Guyana Elections Commission on Tuesday, September 10, 2019. (file photo)

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo wants the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Claudette Singh to explain her decision to remove more than 25,000 names from the voters list if those persons do not uplift their national identification (ID) cards within 21 days.

“Right now, we are calling on the Chairman to explain her decisions. That’s all we are saying. Be available to the press, answer the concerns of Guyanese, explain to them clearly why this will not take away their right to vote. How, if I did not pick up my ID card, how am I going to lose my right to vote; under what law or constitution,” the Opposition Leader said.

GECOM had reportedly previously made efforts to contact those persons to collect their ID cards dating back to 2008.

The GECOM Chairman earlier this week sided with the three pro-coalition election commissioners to agree that those persons should be notified by mail and the newspapers that they need to uplift their cards or their names would be struck off the voters list and they would not be allowed to vote at next March’s general elections.

While Mr. Jagdeo says he might ask to meet with the GECOM Chairman and the six commissioners, he wants her to give a public explanation through the media. “We will probably do that to seek the answers but I don’t think we alone should get the answers in the PPP. APNU [A Partnership for National Unity] should get the answers too. The public should know. What about people across this country? They should hear these decisions because this election doesn’t belong to PPP or APNU, it belongs to the people of the country. They have a right to hear about this. That’s why I’m saying it can’t be done only in a closed-door environment,” he said.

The Opposition Leader, who is also General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party, did not rule out the issue being taken to court after hearing the GECOM Chairman’s explanation. He is optimistic that the courts will speedily hear any case brought on whether GECOM is seeking to disenfranchise people because they failed to uplift their national ID cards.

The PPP is concerned that the governing coalition and its commissioners are setting the stage to challenge the validity of the March 2, 2020, general elections.

Singh has not held a news conference or granted interviews since assuming office in late July, making her the GECOM Chairman who has been least accessible to the media since 1992. A request for an interview has been turned down.

The pro-governing coalition election commissioners have been pushing for the removal of the names of dead persons and migrants from the voters list which contains 646,625 names to avoid substitute voting. Guyana’s total population is 746,955.

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October 2019