PNCR Returning Officer ready for internal party elections

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2024, 14:12 by Writer

Mr. Vincent Alexander

Barring the High Court’s granting of an injunction on Thursday to block the People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) highest decision-making meeting from going ahead on Friday, Returning Officer Vincent Alexander said he was satisfied with his preparations to preside over the internal elections.

“My process is to run an election. I am on target and the candidates with whom I met have no reservations about my process. They might have had other reservations but they were not related to my process,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. He said it was normal for him to meet with the candidates to inform them about his process.

The High Court has been asked to block the Congress until a number of alleged party constitutional violations are addressed to ensure the process is free, fair and transparent.

Mr Alexander confirmed meeting with “all” of the candidates except incumbent party leader Aubrey Norton or his representative because neither was present.

Congress Administrator, Sherwyn Benjamin on Wednesday said approximately 2,000 candidates are eligible to attend the 22nd Biennial Delegates Congress scheduled for June 28 to 30.

Mr Alexander maintained that he was not concerned about the ‘inputs’ of the process which could impact the outputs of the Returning Officer’s process. “The outputs of my progress has got to do purely with the people who turn up to vote and for whom the vote,” he said. He explained that the Returning Officer’s function starts with the delegates turning up to vote.

Asked if the process is regarded by some as being tainted and so affect the number of persons who turn out to vote, he said, “I don’t know and I am not about to be prejudiced by views or judgements about anything outside of my process.”

He said he was engaged to do a “professional job” which starts and ends with the delegates, and he was not concerned about the authenticity of the delegates or concerns by competitors. “They have to take those concerns to where they belong. They don’t belong with me,” he said.

Mr Alexander, also a Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioner, said he was not bothered that his integrity could be called into question due to concerns by one or two of the contenders who could continue to register reservations. “My process is scrutiny. It is open for acceptance or non-acceptance. I will depend on that in terms of where I stand in the public – my involvement and my process – and I’m confident it can stand scrutiny,” he said.

The Returning Officer was expected to receive the list of delegates by the end of Wednesday, but he has started to print ballots. On receipt of the delegates’ list, he said “I take the delegates’ list at face value” and ensure that no one who is not on the list votes and that no one on the list votes twice. He said the role of the Returning Officer is not to match it with the membership register. He said the candidates “should have access to the membership list and raise concerns with the producers of the list.”

In particular, A Partnership for National Unity’s member, Roysdale Forde’s campaign has been raising a litany of concerns starting from the nomination process at the level of party groups, and the creation and splitting of party groups.

Asked for guarantees that the internal elections would be free and fair, Congress Administrator Benjamin told a Wednesday’s news briefing that, “I’m not sure any elections held in Guyana or moreover the world can be seen as free and fair. There are certain benchmarks. I think the margin of error in respect of what has transpired in the process is minimal,” he said. Without naming anyone, he said those who are complaining do not understand the process down to the group level. “I don’t think in the main it can cast a cloud over the overall transparency of the elections,” he said.