Tighter election laws to target GECOM staff

Last Updated on Monday, 1 March 2021, 15:59 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall on Monday said election laws would be amended to hold the staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) accountable.

“Of course a slew of amendments will be done to our election laws, to make the electoral process more credible and transparent and to hold the staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to a higher standard of care,” he said in his contribution to the 2021 National Budget debate.

He gave no details about the planned amendments, but they come against the backdrop of deep-seated concerns between the March 2, 2020 polling day and the declaration of results August 2, 2020 about the tabulation and declaration of results for Region Four.

A number of election observer missions have recommended that the relevant election laws be amended to deal with tabulation and recounting procedures.

There were at least three declarations for that district with all of them showing a win for A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) and return to power. However, a recount of  the votes showed that the results were almost identical to the Statements of Poll showed by Nandlall’s People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Since then, the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; Deputy Chief Elections Officer  Roxanne Myers; Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo; Information Technology Officer, Enrique Livan and Registration Officer, Sheffern February have been charged with electoral fraud offences.

The trials are yet to get off the ground.

“Mr. Speaker it is the same way the Honourable members fooled their supporters that they won the March 2nd 2020 elections but up to now they can’t show their supporters their Statements of Poll. During the infamous five months, they tried hard to excite racial hostilities in this country but our people rejected them,” Mr. Nandlall said.

APNU+AFC has since filed two election petitions, one of which has been thrown out by the High Court because of non-compliance with the water-tight filing procedures. The opposition coalition continues to allege that the polls were rigged through PPP-inspired voter impersonation of deceased persons and persons who were overseas on polling day, and absence of documents from ballot boxes to reconcile with votes cast.