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Local Govt elections possible before yearend – GECOM officials

Last Updated on Sunday, 7 August 2022, 19:58 by Denis Chabrol

Chief Election Officer Vishnu Persaud.

Guyanese in towns and neighbourhood councils could vote in Local Government Elections before the end of 2022 (LGE) to elect new representatives , according to Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vishnu Persaud and opposition Election Commissioner Vincent Alexander.

Mr. Persaud declined to disclose the proposed date but Mr. Alexander told Demerara Waves Online News that before the slippage in the time-table due to negotiations with a foreign company for the cross-matching of fingerprints, GECOM was expected to be ready to hold the polls in November.

The CEO said the company has changed ownership several times and no longer does fingerprint crossmatching but GECOM managed to convince the entity to do this batch. He explained that usually the crossmatching results are provided in about five days from the date of submission but on this occasion it took one month before GECOM was given the greenlight to send the fingerprints. “That took a big chunk out of a plan that we had internally working towards Local Government Elections by the end of this year,” he said

GECOM does not set election dates but informs the government, in this case the Local Government Minister Nigel Dharamlall, of the date by which it will be ready and then the incumbent administration announces a date.

The CEO said an estimated 49,000  new registrants, who are 14 years and older, are now expected to be added to the national database of registrants with the commission’s approval and then a claims and objections period will be called before a new voters list for LGE is generated. “With that, I will still be able to pull off Local Government Elections thus year providing that the people who decide on that say ‘yes’,” he said, that the workplan has been approved.

LGE was last held in 2018.

 GECOM Commissioners Vincent Alexander and Desmond Trotman.

Election Commissioner Alexander also left open the possibility of GECOM still being able to run off the LGE this year because “these plans, sometimes, they have a leeway in between so could catch up.” Mr. Alexander said he was awaiting an update about a new date of readiness from the CEO.

GECOM at its next statutory meeting scheduled for Tuesday, 9th August, 2022, according to Mr Persaud, is scheduled to decide on the adoption of the new registrants and the results of the finger-print cross-matching.  He said the overseas company has found 72 “hits” and a number of those persons has since provided acceptable explanations while a recommendation has been made for police might be called in to probe the others.

Mr. Persaud denied informing the privately-owned Stabroek News that the decision on the date for LGE rested with the seven-member GECOM including the Chairman.

Meanwhile, Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Aubrey Norton urged General Council delegates from across Guyana to begin campaigning but the party did not specify whether it would be for LGE or general and regional elections that are due by 2025. “Mr. Norton called for the Party to slip into a campaign mode and to spread its messages not only in its strongholds but across all communities in Guyana,” the PNCR said.

That party, which is the largest and most influential in A Partnership for National Unity, which is in coalition with the Alliance For Change, also formally agreed that there are other requirements for Guyana’s election machinery. “He reiterated the Party’s call for a clean voters list and for an impartial and trustworthy Chairperson for GECOM,” the PNCR added.

LGE will elect town councillors for Georgetown, Linden, New Amsterdam, Rose Hall, Corriverton, Anna Regina, Bartica, Mahdia, Mabaruma, and Lethem and 70 neighbourhood councils.

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August 2022