Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 May 2021, 21:38 by Denis Chabrol
The governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says the main opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) will be consulted about Guyana’s electoral reform but government will drive the process with help from organisations like the International Republican Institute (IRI).
“It is downright naïve for anyone to think that such a process can be undertaken without the input of the major opposition political party in Guyana. The law reforms must be done through the parliament and the opposition will have an input both in and out of parliament,” the PPP said in a statement.
In reaction to concerns by the opposition and its election commissioners and other interest groups about claims of non-consultation by the government about the United States-funded electoral reform project being implemented by the IRI, the PPP said it was merely keeping its promise to revamp the legal and regulatory machinery with help from the international community.
“The truth is that the PPP/C’s Administration has made it very clear as soon as they assumed office there will be electoral reforms and the Government would drive that process. It was also made very clear that the Government will accept the assistance and work with various international organisations and Governments, as well as, local organisations and political parties that stood with Guyana in defence of our democracy, during the dark five months when it was under severe threat,” the PPPC said.
Guyanese had gone to the polls on March 2, 2020 but it was not until August 2, 2020 that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had declared a winner, after numerous court cases concerning the controversial processes that had been used to declare the results for Region Four.
The PPP debunked assertions by opponents to the IRI, saying that the APNU+AFC was merely now exhibiting double standards because it had taken advantage of that organisation’s assistance back in 2011 and 2015 to woo youths to turn out in their numbers to vote. In 2014, the IRI supported the formation of the Guyana National Youth Council. A month before the elections, the group rolled out its ‘Vote Like a Boss Campaign’ – a slogan that was coincidentally being used by the APNU+AFC Coalition in its campaigning. Therefore, the sudden disdain and criticism of the IRI is simply duplicitous and disingenuous,” the PPP said.
In the run-up to the 2015 elections, the then PPP administration had withdrawn support for a US$1.2 million Leadership and Democracy Project (LEAD) project and had revoked the work-permit for the Project Head, Glen Bradbury over concerns about violation of Guyana’s sovereignty. On the other hand, the APNU+AFC and a number of other allies had supported the project.
The PPP said the attack on the IRI’s role in Guyana’s electoral reform process has been misrepresented and manipulated to win political partisan and ethnic sentiments.
The African Cultural and Development Association, Working People’s Alliance, and the Guyana Human Rights Association have all called for the IRI’s involvement in the electoral reform process to be scrapped.
The APNU+AFC-aligned election commissioners have called for bipartisan agreement between the President and the Opposition Leader or between government and the opposition in parliament before the project can go ahead.
The African Cultural and Development Association, Working People’s Alliance, and the Guyana Human Rights Association have all called for the IRI’s involvement in the electoral reform process to be scrapped. The APNU+AFC-aligned election commissioners have called for bipartisan agreement between the President and the Opposition Leader or between government and the opposition in parliament before the project can go ahead.
The PPP accused the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR)-led APNU+AFC coalition of not being keen on electoral reforms. “The PNC historically has always been opposed to any reform that would enhance Guyana’s democratic structure, strengthen the legal progress and bring transparency to the electoral machinery. The PNC
would like a weak system which they can pervert and corrupt as the world saw them attempt to do for five long months after the March 2, 2020, General and Regional Elections,” the PPP said.
The coalition continues to maintain that the elections were rigged by the PPP through voter impersonation of dead persons and others who had been overseas on polling day and missing poll documents.