Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 August 2022, 22:27 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton on Tuesday announced that his coalition of A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) would support amendments to Guyana’s constitution and election laws to ensure free and fair elections.
“APNU+AFC hereby goes on record that we stand ready to discuss and support the necessary constitutional and other amendments to ensure a clean voters list as a necessary condition to ensure that the next elections are free, fair, and credible,” he told a news conference.
He said major reforms should provide for a clean voters list and the use of biometrics at the place of polling.
Mr Norton’s position came days after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) said all it could do is abide by the existing law that only allows the removal of names on the National Database of Registrants through the General Registrar’s Office periodically providing the names of deceased persons , and filing claims and objections to names of persons backed by evidence.
The APNU+AFC has been calling persistently for a clean voters list, saying that the current votes roll of about 680,000 contains thousands of names of dead persons and migrants and these provide the opportunity for substitute voting.
“The PPP remains the sole source of resistance to these reforms,” he said. The Opposition Leader restated his demand for the GECOM Chairman Retired Justice Claudette Singh to “go”. “Unfortunately, the GECOM Chairperson has allowed the PPP to render the commission useless in fulfilling its constitutional mandate of ensuring impartiality and fairness in our elections,” he said.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall on Tuesday night stayed clear of committing government or his governing People’s Progressive Party to such reforms but said Mr Norton has now backed down “fundamentally” from his original position. “He agrees that changes have to be made in the law for you to change the content of the list. I am not admitting that the list is bloated. I don’t accept his position but at least he has come to the realisation that his demands were nonsensical and that he was behaving like a bull in a china shop,” he said on his Social Media show. Mr Nandlall asked Mr Norton to apologise to his supporters for misleading him.
The Opposition Leader noted that Guyana has history electoral reforms dating back to 1990 that provides for the counting of votes at the place of poll, the reintroduction of geographical constituencies during the 1999-2000 constitutional reform process, and the introduction of fingerprint biometric cross-matching for the 2006 general and regional elections.