May 27, 2017 Source
Internationally recognized organization, The Carter Center, has once again documented the need for constitutional reform in Guyana. The entity repeated, among other things, that the current winner-take-all system is problematic.
The organization said that the urgency of constitutional reform is made greater with the anticipated influx of oil revenue, “which has the potential to exacerbate ethnic and political conflicts.”
The Carter Center highlighted, too, the need for reform, so as to allow individual candidates to stand for President. The constitutional rules in Guyana limit all candidature for the office of the presidency and for membership of the National Assembly to those who join party lists. The organization said that this is an unreasonable limitation on the freedom of association and on the right to run for election.
The organization said that an amendment to the Constitution is necessary to effect this change, and this should be considered as a matter of some urgency in order to allow independent candidates to participate in elections.
In addition, The Carter Center noted that in light of the history of ethnic polarization, Guyana might want to consider preferred, or ranked, voting for president in which voters’ award votes ranked on an ordinal scale to all candidates in the race, and the winner is the candidate who wins the most total votes.
“This places an incentive on candidates to appeal to voters across party and communal lines,” the report noted.
The Carter Center noted that prior to the elections, there is no opportunity for anyone, neither candidate nor voter, to make a complaint related to the conduct of the election or to the nomination of a candidate, in any forum. The organization noted that the legal framework should be revised to allow for the filing of complaints in the pre-election period, and the electoral calendar adjusted accordingly.
Also, the organization said that the electoral calendar should be revised to provide for an earlier nomination date of candidates, while a facility should be created in electoral law (the Representation of the People Act, 1964, or any new legislation that may supersede it) allowing for complaints to be made to GECOM, with attendant adjudication powers conferred on GECOM, with a right of appeal.
LAW ON POLITICAL PARTIES
Further, the Center noted that there is a total absence of law on the registration and operation of political parties in Guyana.
The Constitution contains strong provisions affirming the right of people to form and to join political parties, but there is currently no legislation related to the registration and operation of political parties. Regulation regarding the registration of political parties should encourage broad-based parties, ensure equitable treatment, provide reasonable and objective grounds for rejecting the registration of a political party, and overall support the freedom of association.
“Registration criteria that promote broad-based parties could seek to move political parties in Guyana beyond ethnic orientation, promoting inclusivity and harmony by denying registration to parties that discriminate on ethnic, geographic, or other grounds,” the report stated.
Currently regulations related to the administration of elections are fragmented across numerous pieces of legislation, orders, regulations, and judicial decisions. The Carter Center said that the consolidation of the law in advance of future elections would create greater legal certainty and clarity among stake-holders regarding the rules overrunning elections in Guyana.
Also, the Center noted that there is a total absence of law on the registration and operation of political parties in Guyana. The constitution contains strong provisions affirming the right of people to form and to join political parties, but there is currently no legislation related to the registration and operation of political parties.