Government justifies split of Region Four into electoral districts

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 November 2021, 11:44 by Denis Chabrol

Attorney General, Anil Nandlall

Attorney General Anil Nandlall has sought to justify the splitting of Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) into four electoral districts.

“District number four is a special district in the electoral equation of our country. It is the most populated. It always has the greatest number of controversy so what we are proposing in these amendments, we are subdividing it,”  he said on the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN).

The proposed amendment of the Representation of the People Act (RoPA) states that Region Four should be sub-divided into East Bank Demerara, North Georgetown, South Georgetown and East Coast Demerara. Mr. Nandlall said provision would be made for each district would have its own staff, infrastructure, regulation, rules, systems and procedures.

The Attorney General explained that each sub-district would tabulate its results at a different location. “When you have them together, we saw first-hand what the possibilities are for wickedness,” he said.

In addressing the tabulation process “frontally”, he alluded to the draft amendment that requires the supernumerary returning officer of a sub-district  to declare the total votes cast in favour of each list of candidates recorded on the Sub-District Tabulation Form to deliver manually, by the quickest available means, a certified copy of the Sub-District Tabulation Form on which the votes are recorded to the Returning Officer of district Region 4. “All these thing you had ambivalence about, they are now clarified,” he added.

The Attorney General said that, in addition to the need to post the Statements of Poll online to GECOM’s website, only the Tabulation Forms rather than spreadsheets must be used to arrive at the declarations. “The era of the spreadsheet and the bedsheet has come to an end and upon receipt of the Statements of Poll by the CEO (Chief Elections Officer, it must now go to the Chairman of the Elections Commission and once they are in they must be posted on the GECOM website,” he said.

He added that only the tabulated forms must be used to compute the final national results to be presented as a report to the Elections Commission. “What is intended; the golden thread that runs through is that the ballot is protected at every step of the way and the ballot or collectively the ballots are counted and that forms the basis for the final declaration of results,” he said, adding that the key is to ensure that the votes counted reflect the will of the people.

Meanwhile, Mr. Nandlall explained the the draft amendments specify that there should be no more than 400 persons at each polling station and that polling places should be in every village or locality within a division to accommodate electors there in their natural environment instead of having to travel.  “Guyana has peculiar physical and political considerations that are reflected in the villages. We want to minimise those areas that can erupt controversies at election time,” he said.

The Attorney General hoped that over the next six weeks that civil society organisations, political parties and the wider public would participate in the consultations on the proposed amendments to the RoPA.

The proposed amendments stem from the five-month long controversy over the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections. After alleged electoral fraud and multiple declarations for Region Four, a national vote recount had been conducted and the results used to declare Mr. Nandlall’s People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) the winner on August 2, 2020.

The now main opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has consistently accused the PPPC of electoral fraud on the East Coast Demerara which is part of Region Four.