Norton back-pedals on plan to stop Local Govt Elections; to use laws to challenge process

Last Updated on Sunday, 30 April 2023, 21:07 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton addressing Guyanese in Barbados

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has back-pedaled on his intention to stop the June 12 Local Government Elections (LGE) over alleged widespread forgery of the names of nominators/backers in the nomination process, and instead said his A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) would use the legal route as recommended by the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

While many persons would advocate a boycott of the elections, he restated his original justification for contesting. “If you boycott, they will take every seat and you will have no representation.” “We cannot afford to allow the People’s Progressive Party to control all of Guyana so while we agitate against them, we will have to take them on and put mechanisms in place to ensure we succeed,” he told a meeting with Guyanese residing in Barbados.

Mr Norton last week Tuesday said from the picket-line outside the GECOM that due to the failure then by that election management body to say which of the candidates were qualified meant that the system was compromised and so his political organisation planned to reexamine the situation and do everything to ensure that there were no elections. The Alliance For Change and the Working People’s Alliance are boycotting the elections for seats in the 70 neighbourhood councils and 10 town councils.

The Opposition Leader indicated that APNU would be heeding the advice of the GECOM Chairman that under the Local Government Elections Act where  the  returning  officer  has  refused  to approve a list of candidates, the representative and deputy representative of the list, or either of them, may, not later than the 20th day before election day appeal against such refusal to the magistrate of the magisterial district in which are situated the offices of the council. That law also provides for elections petitions to be filed after the polls. “In this case, we have to go to the magistrate in this present fraud as well as petitioin but we also have to continue to act politically against the PPP,” he said.

He also justified the importance of going to court to know the issue.

The Chief Elections Officer Vishnu Persaud has come in for sharp criticism from APNU for stating that the GECOM Secretariat was not legally empowered to go after suspected fraudsters.

He appealed for Guyanese in Barbados to support his People’s National Congress Reform-led APNU’s demand for a voters list that is scrubbed of the names of deceased persons and emigrants and a biometric system is put in place at polling stations to avoid voter impersonation. “We are convinced once we get that, we will beat them hands down,” he said.

Both APNU and the PPP have traded accusations of fraud during the nomination process and have said they would file complaints of fraud.