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GECOM to discuss provocative utterances by APNU/AFC leaders

Election Day protocol

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is expected to discuss the recent utterances on the campaign trail by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) candidates, where they called on supporters to “protect their ballots”.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall

The issue was raised with GECOM via a letter written by former Attorney General and People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) candidate, Anil Nandlall. On Wednesday, GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh wrote to Nandlall and informed him that the issue would be discussed when the elections body meets on February 4.

Disturbed at utterances
In his letter, Nandlall outlined that the PPP/C is gravely disturbed at the utterances of several of the candidates on the coalition government’s list. He explained that they have been utilising their political platforms to encourage the assembly of their supporters at polling places after the polls close.

GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh

He singled out a number of candidates who have been encouraging supporters to “protect their ballot”, and among those names are People’s National Congress (PNC) Chairperson Volda Lawrence, Finance Minister Winston Jordan, Attorney General Basil Williams and former Guyana Defence Force Chief of Staff, Gary Best.
The PNC Chairperson, at a public meeting in Kitty, Georgetown, on January 19, told supporters: “When 6 o’clock hit, comrades, you supposed to already have your bath and put on your nightshift clothing…You understand what I am saying, comrades? This is not a time for sleeping…They must not catch us sleeping on the job. Comrades, at 6 o’clock, you return to work at the places of polling and you will remain out there and let our staff inside know that you’re out there…And then our nice strong men will be mobilised to follow that ballot box until it goes into that container and the APNU/AFC padlock and chain is placed on that container…”

PNC Chairperson Volda Lawrence

In his letter, Nandlall reminded that violence and riotous behaviours are commonly associated with the conduct of elections of Guyana. He reminded Justice Singh of such instances during the conduct of the 2015 General and Regional Elections when the car of PPP/C candidate Joseph Hamilton was torched, as well as a polling place in Sophia.
“Even senior APNU/AFC leaders who appeared on the scene could not quell this assembly of coalition supporters which was quickly transformed into a mob. Statements of the type, which reference is made above, are, therefore, a sure recipe for disaster. GECOM and the security forces are quite competent to secure and convey the ballots to its requisite locations and no political party ought to be involved in this process, except as authorised by the Representation of the People’s Act,” Nandlall outlined in his letter to Justice Singh.
He reminded that Section 78(A) of the Representation of the People’s Act Cap 1:03 makes it a criminal offence for any unauthorised person to obstruct or interfere with the conveyance of election materials, ballot boxes, and ballot papers.
Nandlall, therefore, pleaded with GECOM to publicly denounce the statements, as well as reassure the electorate that such activities would not be tolerated.
In her response to Nandlall, Justice Singh informed that the matter would be placed on the Commission’s agenda when they meet next Tuesday.
Just over the weekend, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield reminded that it is the responsibility of the Police and not supporters to secure ballot boxes.
The CEO made it clear that the only time parties have a role in securing ballot boxes is when disciplined services go out and vote. He noted that on Election Day, when the entire population votes, no such arrangement exists.
“Let’s start with the disciplined services. For disciplined services balloting 10 days before elections, we have ballot stations in Police and army localities. When I go to Timehri, for instance, and the day is ended, I facilitate the movement of those votes back to the centre to be secured,” Lowenfield said.
“Each location will have a (party) agent. So the Commission has approved the movement of agents from the respective parties to accompany. We can only take X amount in the bus we have. So yes, there is accompaniment of the votes from the disciplined services, so they arrive at the destination at GECOM. And they will observe us placing the boxes in a container. For general and regional, there is no such arrangement.”
According to Lowenfield, he will be meeting with the various election parties to brief them on these and other issues.

No voting with ‘pink slips’
Nandlall also wrote the GECOM Chair expressing concerns over statements she purportedly made to the Guyana Chronicle.
The State’s newspaper quoted Justice Singh as saying, “Why should I take off people? Come elections day, should these people come up with their pink slip, indicating that they were registered, what are we going to do? The people will demand that they have a right to vote because they were registered,” during an interview.
However, Nandlall said that the PPP/C is concerned with the statement and asked for clarifications.
“Our understanding is that the law and the Constitution only permit persons whose names are on the Official List of Electors (OLE) to vote. Unfortunately, your statement appears inconsistent with this legal reality. You must appreciate that this is a matter of crucial importance and unless this inconsistency is resolved, it can result in public disorder, confusion and chaos on the day of poll,” the letter stated.
In her response, Justice Singh clarified: “I have to inform you that there was no indication in my statement that persons should vote with ‘pink slips’. The reference to ‘pink slips’ attested only to the fact that they would have been registered”.
GECOM will be hosting General and Regional Elections on March 2, 2020.

https://guyanatimesgy.com/geco...by-apnu-afc-leaders/

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"The PNC Chairperson, at a public meeting in Kitty, Georgetown, on January 19, told supporters: “When 6 o’clock hit, comrades, you supposed to already have your bath and put on your nightshift clothing…You understand what I am saying, comrades? This is not a time for sleeping…They must not catch us sleeping on the job. Comrades, at 6 o’clock, you return to work at the places of polling and you will remain out there and let our staff inside know that you’re out there…And then our nice strong men will be mobilised to follow that ballot box until it goes into that container and the APNU/AFC padlock and chain is placed on that container…”

GECOM is an independent body’

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Dr. Ronald Deep Ford, Ambassador of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to United Nations Organisations (Geneva), makes his presentation to the Universal Periodic Review Working Group. Other members of the mission seated next to the ambassador are (Right) Nashanta Benn, Counsellor Permanent Mission of Guyana in Geneva, and Joann Bond, Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel, Ministry of Legal Affairs

….Guyana reminds US at UN review forum
…says commission already committed to free, fair elections

THE Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is an independent constitutional organ and it has committed to conduct free and fair elections here, come March 2, Dr. J. Ronald Deep Ford, Ambassador of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to the United Nations Organisations (Geneva) said, as he allayed the concerns of the United States of America.
Ambassador Ford, at the time, was responding to a number of concerns raised after he had presented to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group, Guyana’s Third National Report. The report was presented on Wednesday in Geneva during the 35th Session of Universal Periodic Review (Working Group).

US Representative, Sean Mariano Garcia, in tabling three recommendations, including a call for the strengthening of Guyana’s electoral system, expressed concern over the application of the Constitution. “The United States is concerned about recent actions by Guyana that may undermine democratic principles, including apparent misapplication of the Guyanese Constitution, and certain court rulings,” Garcia said.

In response, Ambassador Ford reminded the UPR Working Group that the Elections Commission is an independent institution protected by the Constitution of Guyana. “The Elections Commission of Guyana…is independent from the State,” he told the high-level global forum. He said the Guyana Elections Commission has assured the nation and the world at large that it will deliver “free, fair, transparent and credible elections on March 2, 2020.”

Weighing in on the concerns raised by the US, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, like Ambassador Ford, said the elections commission is an independent constitutional organ – a fact acknowledged and confirmed by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – the country’s highest court.

Referencing to the case – Christopher Ram v Attorney General et al [2019] CCJ 14 (AJ), the Attorney General said the Caribbean Court of Justice confirmed that it is the responsibility of GECOM to conduct General and Regional Elections in Guyana. “…GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution,” the CCJ said as it handed down its ruling in mid-June, 2019.

Elections in Guyana were triggered by the passage of a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018, however, the validity of the motion was challenged in the courts. In January 2019, the High Court upheld the no-confidence motion but by March 22, 2019, that High Court decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal. It was not until June 18, 2019 that the CCJ affirmed the no-confidence motion.

But in handing down its ruling, the CCJ stated that: “Article 106 of the Constitution invests in the President and the National Assembly (and implicitly in GECOM), responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the elections which must be held. It would not therefore be right for the court, by the issuance of coercive orders or detailed directives, to presume to instruct these bodies on how they must act and thereby pre-empt the performance by them of their constitutional responsibilities. It is not, for example, the role of the court to establish a date on or by which the elections must be held, or to lay down timelines and deadlines that, in principle, are the preserve of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives.”

While the CCJ handed down its ruling in June, 2019, it was not until mid-September, 2019 that GECOM, having been appointed a new Chairman, informed President David Granger that it would be ready to hold General and Regional Elections by the end of February 2020.
On the eve of October 1, 2019, President Granger, in accordance with the advice of GECOM, proclaimed March 2, 2020 as the day on which an election of members of the National Assembly and the election of members of the Regional Democratic Council (RDCs) shall be held.

Since then GECOM has been actively putting systems in place for the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. More than 600,000 Guyanese are expected to go to the polls on Monday, March 2, 2020.

RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT
Meanwhile, in addressing the alleged “misapplication of the Constitution, the Attorney General explained that “there was an omission on the 1991 Constitutional Amendment restoring residency in our Constitution which was engendered by the intervention of President Jimmy Carter, together with the removal of overseas voting by the Elections Law (Amendment) Act 1991.”

A recent High Court ruling said residency was not a requirement for persons to be on the National Register of Registrants – a decision which has been challenged in the Court of Appeal and is awaiting final ruling.

Guyana was among 14 countries that reported on actions taken to improve human rights situations and the implementation of the UPR recommendations posed during their previous reviews. Ambassador Ford was accompanied by Nashanta Benn, Counsellor Permanent Mission of Guyana in Geneva; and Joann Bond, Deputy Chief Parliamentary Counsel at the Ministry of Legal Affairs. Guyana’s last review was in 2015.

ksazma posted:

Time will tell if the PNC will behave in a civilized manner or if they will continue as usual.

Leh we bet. PNC gun create havoc, Mo Fiah Slo Fiah should they lose. You will see animal like Jumbies on the streets with Barrels and other objects performing Olige ceremonies and more.

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