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AFC calls for restart, broadening of electoral reform process

Last Updated on Tuesday, 23 November 2021, 14:56 by Denis Chabrol

The Alliance For  Change (AFC) on Tuesday urged the Guyana government to restart the election reform process by opening it up to all stakeholders and involving the Law Reform Commission (LRC).

“It urges a restart of the process with all participants and stakeholders playing their roles and having their say from a drafting stage to completion stage with the help of experts who should be hired by the Law Reform Commission or can be from international and regional centres,” AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan told his party’s virtual news conference.

Attorney General Anil Nandlall had said that the LRC was not fully equipped to deal with the raft of proposed electoral reforms. But Mr. Ramjattan countered by saying that was relegating the LRC to a “toothless poodle” although a retired judge and a top official of the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) had the capacity to make legislative changes. “I’m saying that if you now hail this thing and bring it forward as the body that will advise government and even opposition as to what the laws are, even judges. If judges have a recommendation for a law change, the law reform commission is that body that will go and do the research behind the law, the defect of the law and what can cure it and, now for the Attorney General to say what he is stating- utter nonsense,” said Mr. Ramjattan, a practicing Attorney-at-Law.

A New and United Guyana and the non-governmental Electoral Reform Group (ERG) do not see any problem with the government taking the lead.  The ERG has also also publicly called for an extension of the six-week period for consultations about the proposed amendments to the Representation of the People Act. That organisation wants the reform process to be broad-based possibly through a national conference of stakeholders who could use the stack of election observer mission reports over the years.

But the AFC reiterated its accusation that the Irfaan Ali-led administration was plotting to jerrymander the electoral process to the PPP’s advantage by breaking up Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) into four sub-districts. The Attorney General has also dismissed this charge, citing the major reasons as the historical problems with elections in Region Four and the size of that administrative region.