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AFC confirms boycott of Local Government Elections

Last Updated on Sunday, 13 November 2022, 14:54 by Denis Chabrol

After flip-flopping three weeks ago, the Alliance For Change (AFC) on Sunday confirmed that it would be boycotting the March 13, 2023 Local Government Elections (LGE) because the voters list is bloated.

“The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Alliance For Change (AFC), after much debate, has arrived at a consensus that the party will not contest the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) without changes to the list of electors,” that party said in a statement.

In apparent reference to United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner Jane Miller’s view that the voters list could be used with sufficient safeguards at polling stations to guarantee one person-one-vote, the AFC indicated that there was no room for compromise on its position that Guyana needs to shrink its voters roll.

“The people of Guyana have a right to feel confident in its electoral system, like the voting public in the United Kingdom or elsewhere, without unnecessary workarounds,” the AFC said.

“The NEC believes that participating in these elections with a list proven deficient and containing widespread discrepancies would perpetrate a fraud on the Guyanese people and undermine our democratic system,” the AFC added.

The People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is yet to say whether it would also boycott LGE in whole or in part, intensify political action or go to court.

For its part, the AFC urged that the LGE be called off because the existing list of electors because it is bloated, illegitimate, and a source of electoral fraud, as demonstrated during the publicized national recount.

“On the face of it, the current list contains the names of persons deceased, migrated and even duplicates,” that party said.

The AFC said it has already called on the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) to produce a credible voters’ list by conducting a certifiable house-to-house verification and registration process. “Accordingly, we would go as far as supporting the postponement of the Local Government Elections, as was done in 1992 to present a “clean” voters’ list to the electorate.”

The People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration last week tabled amendments to Guyana’s electoral laws to compel the General Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to hand over the names of deceased persons to the Guyana Election Commission for removal from the National Database of Registrants.

“It is manifest that our electoral system is far from perfect, but we MUST not wilfully perpetuate a deception on the people of Guyana,” the AFC said 

During the National Elections in 2020, the AFC said there were multiple instances where dead people, the migrated, and a host of other shenanigans interfered with the electoral process. “We should not go there again! “.

Minister of Parliamentary Afffairs and Governance Gail Teixeira last week rubbishd APNU+AFC’s repeated claims of voters impersonation.

The AFC also echoed APNU’s call for the use of biometrics and the necessary electronic equipment to enhance our voting experience and reduce the propensity for impersonation. 

The Irfaan Ali-led administration has said Guyana’s constitutional requirements to be registered as an elector would have to await next year’s constitutional reform process to see if the people would decide to include residency.

The High Court has ruled that residency in Guyana cannot be used as means of removing persons from the National Database of registrants.

Last month AFC Chairman Cathy Hughes had said her party would boycott next year’s LGE but one day later party leader Khemraj Ramjattan had said she was speaking in her personal capacity because the party had not yet made a decision.