GECOM must not interfere with the NRR

first_imgDear Editor,It is necessary and timely for all stakeholders in these critical and overdue General and Regional Elections to establish the measures of adeptness that will ensure the application of processes consistent with the applicable legislative framework. Certainly, non-compliance in this respect leads to default variances from the legitimate expectations by competing parties and creates partisan impacts that will likely favour one group against other competitors. Already, there have been myriad challenges to the applied processes including the tinkering with the NRR and RLE after publication without following the mandatory statutory processes.The National Registration Act Cap 19.08 establishes the divisional basis for continuous registration and stipulates the conditions and procedures the Commissioner and specific deputies must follow during any period of Registration. Specifically, Section 15 of this Act addresses the process including the right of appeal following Claims and Objections to which the Commissioner of Registration’s decision is final; before any name is added or subtracted from the National Register of Registrants Database. Certainly, there is no evidence that the Chief Elections Officer at GECOM is following these mandated obligations.Foremost, the halting of the Patterson/Lowenfield backdated infused House-to-House Registration following the CCJ’s ruling on the carried No-Confidence Motion (NCM). Therefore, GECOM’s decision to add unverified names from the truncated House-to-House Registration to the NRR given the existence and continuance of the legally binding Claims and Objections is clearly wrong and highly objectionable. It creates a recipe for serious confusion and lawlessness and the GECOM Chairperson must remember her ruling went against using of ‘voters identification card’, although, the political parties had agreed to that process.Clearly, the approximately six thousand (6000) unverified names cannot be added to the Revised List of Electors. Further, it is unacceptable for the Guyanese voting population to carry the burden of the uncertainty of names that GECOM staff and APNU scrutineers registered, which, within days cannot find the persons who registered them. It is of note that the Secretariat under Keith Lowenfield had utilised surreptitious approaches to exclude the scrutineers from the main Opposition or any other party from the process.To read in the press that the Government Commissioners walked out of the statutory meeting before Nomination Day is a clear signal of what is to come. The PNC as the core of APNU/AFC coalition is clearly exhibiting a determined manoeuvre based on procrastinating and delaying the process in order to stay illegally longer in office. The obvious approach is the use of an infiltrative approach at GECOM to realise a contaminated list which they hope and expect will be rejected, towards a recurrence of the 1990 position when elections were delayed by two years to clean up the mess.For quite some time, stakeholders have observed that Keith Lowenfield has continued to usurp the authority of the GECOM Commission. There have been numerous complaints from Commission members that he has implemented the decision of his own accord, without following or bringing the appropriate matters before the Commission for approval and directions. There are no objections by the proven highly partisan PNC/APNU Commissioners when these matters are discussed. Opposition Commissioners raise objections, and it indicates the existence of clandestine behind the scene manoeuvres which undermines the required level of transparency for this key organisation.The foregoing highlights the highly conflicting issue of hiring of staff, which functionally, fall under the Commission’s responsibility. Of real concern is the recent publication of hired Regional Returning Officers (ROs) who are supposed to be temporary appointments, while these persons are actually permanent members employed at the GECOM Secretariat without the blessings of the Commission members. Regarding the hiring of staff, Act No 15 of 2000 Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2000 states:“17. (1) There shall be a Permanent Secretariat to the Commission to ensure institutional memory and capacity and the Commission shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of the Secretariat.(2) The Commission shall be responsible for appointing on such terms and conditions as may be determined by the Commission such permanent and temporary staff to the offices of the Commission as are considered by the necessary for the discharge of its function under the Constitution and any written law.18. The Chief Election Officer and the Commissioner of Registration shall, notwithstanding anything in any written law, be subject to the direction and control of the Commission. In essence, let us be clear, all hiring and appointment of staff, “permanent and temporary” must be done by the Commission.”Taxpayers and Guyanese at large cannot accept the continuously partisan and incompetent staff the GECOM Secretariat hired to do the House-to-House Registration, and which, within days, cannot find the registrants. I had forewarned that the shenanigans of those behind the farcical House-to-House, is strongly linked to milking cow syndrome of thieving and spending money. Further, it must be noted that the ‘unverified’ House-to-House Registration was done on the wrong statutory forms.Observers have noted that persons added to the RLE presumably from the truncated House-to-House, have been assigned an identification card number. These have included the thousands of unverified persons that are clearly challengeable. It is, therefore, necessary that we ask when will the GECOM Secretariat issue the National ID cards to the people who applied and are waiting for months for their ID cards.As in the previous General and Regional Elections, another area of conflict has been the absence and neglect of the GECOM CEO to provide the reconciled position of the electronic result to the Commission for approval before announcing and publishing the results of votes counted in the ascertainment of the elections results. I advocated for the definitive and procedural legal compliance in this respect. Section 96 (1) and (2) of Act No 15 of 2000 Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2000 states respectively:“(1) The Chief Elections Officer shall, after calculating the total number of valid votes of electors which have been cast for each list of candidates, on the basis of the votes counted and the information furnished by Returning Officers under Section 84 (11), ascertain the results of the elections in accordance with Sections 97 and 98.(2) The Chief Elections Officer shall prepare a report manually and in electronic form in terms of Section 99 for the benefit of the Commission, which shall be the basis for the Commission to declare and publish the election results under Section 99.”Hence, it is imperative that all systems must be in place for efficient functioning in the Information Technology Department. In this sense, the UNDP offer previously rejected by previous Chairman James Patterson must be accepted immediately. There must be no resistance to the UNDP IT presence at GECOM.Things are not looking good with the GECOM staff, the proven highly politically tarnished persons of the like to Melanie Marshall is bad news. The public demands that persons, which fall in this category, are not tolerated around GECOM!There are questions about why the Returning Officer for Region Five’s appointment was delayed and only named after Granger’s announcement about having to ‘win’ in this region. There is something sinister about this because Region Five is a suspect area for housing many Haitians, while the PNC representative had falsely tried to remove thousands of legitimate Guyanese from the voters’ list. What, therefore, is GECOM’s motive?Sincerely,Neil Kumarlast_img read more

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