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Harmon asks US organisation for info on electoral reform project because Ali refusing to meet

Last Updated on Sunday, 9 May 2021, 7:35 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has asked the implementers of a United States (US)-funded electoral reform project for information about an electoral reform project, saying that he is not optimistic that government would brief him because President Irfaan Ali has already refused to speak with him unless he recognises the government.

“Given the concerns of our constituents, particularly in context of the non-consultative posture of the Ali Administration, I write to request that the APNU/AFC Coalition be fully briefed on the Terms of Reference for the Project and the mechanisms for consultations with the Opposition,” he said.

Mr. Harmon told the Resident Programme Coordinator of the International Republican Institute (IRI),  Dorota Ryzy that he merely learned through a US Embassy release that the 18-month project to strengthen the capacity of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the Attorney General’s Chambers regarding electoral processes, and to encourage civil society organizations (CSOs) to advocate for electoral reform in accordance with regional and
international standards.

He committed his coalition to electoral reform but his opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) supporters who represent close to 50 percent of Guyana’s electorate could not be left out of the process.  “The APNU/AFC Coalition fully supports electoral reform in Guyana, but we are of the view that this has to be done in full consultation with the Opposition,” he said.

The Opposition Leader said the US’ announcement has caused “considerable unease and anxiety”, particularly since President Irfaan Ali has bluntly refused to hold political engagements with him. “The APNU/AFC Coalition fully supports electoral reform in Guyana, but we are of the view that this has to be done in full consultation with the Opposition,” he said.

Ms. Ryzy has already held talks with Attorney General Anil Nandlall.

President Ali has repeatedly called on Mr. Harmon to recognise him and his People’s Progressive Party as being in office legitimately as a result of the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. Mr. Harmon continues to maintain that his coalition does not regard the government as legitimate but has publicly called for talks.

Through Governance Minister Gail Teixeira, the President and the Opposition Leader held somewhat of a consultation that led to Mr. Harmon’s submission of nominees for Local Government Commissioners. All Regional Chairmen and Mayors, including those from APNU+AFC strongholds, have taken their oaths of office before President Ali. Mr. Harmon, since the PPP regained power, has also written several letters to Dr. Ali, addressing him as President of Guyana.

The US, European Union, India and Canada have all promised to assist Guyana in reforming its laws and constitution, following the five-month long controversy over the electoral results especially the several declarations for District/ Region Four that had sought to secure the return of APNU+AFC to power.

The coalition has claimed that the PPP has rigged the elections through voter impersonation on the basis of a voters list that it says has been bloated with the names of deceased and migrants.