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Reforms needed before another election in Guyana – Harmon admits

https://i2.wp.com/www.inewsguyana.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/harmon3.jpg?resize=696%2C464&ssl=1Joseph Harmon

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on Friday admitted that there are certain changes in the electoral system that need to take place before the country has another election.

“The constitutional reform committee is…important to us because we want to make certain interventions there so that we can have some changes made to certain aspects of our Constitution,”

“We know that constitutional reform will take a while but, in the meantime, we believe that in a bipartisan way, we can address issues which have been raised by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and by our own Court of Appeal in relation to our own electoral laws. We need to address those even before we get into another elections,” Harmon said during a press conference.

The position adopted by Harmon differs from that taken by APNU/AFC’s Aubrey Norton who – in October – contended that the coalition is in no rush for reforms. Norton had said “while we are prepared to consider and discuss electoral reform, it is not something that we will hurtle to without careful analysis of the proposals as well as the institutional changes that are going to be made. So, we are open to discussions and to moving forward on it but we are not at all going to just rush into electoral reforms.”

The 2020 General and Regional Elections held on March 2 was marred by a number of controversies including lengthy legal proceedings – causing the electoral process to drag on for five months until a winner was finally declared on August 2.

In fact, the 2020 elections highlighted numerous flaws in the electoral system – particularly at the Guyana Elections Commission – which the new PPP/C Administration has vowed to address before the country hosts another election.

When pressed about what specific changes the main parliamentary Opposition would like to see taking place before another election is held in Guyana, Harmon said: “I can’t tell you specifically what are all of them but I do know that they are decisions that have been made by the CCJ and I think there are some decisions also by our Court of Appeal that now requires checking and to be placed in the Constitution as we move forward.”

“It is public knowledge that there are some issues that arose in [the] matter which were filed that went to the Caribbean Court of Justice and the CCJ made certain rulings with respect to our Constitution. Those are now decisions made by the highest court in our jurisdiction and therefore, those decisions have to be taken into consideration as we go forward…We have to incorporate some of those decisions into our Constitution,” he explained.

Some of those legal proceedings dealt with the role of the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission and the interpretation of “more votes cast” as expressed in Article 177 (2) (b) of the Constitution.

Apart from the constitutional reforms, Harmon said the APNU/AFC would not be comfortable going back to another election with the current voters’ list which he described as “bloated”.

President Dr Irfaan Ali has also underscored the need for an updated voters’ list but he had stressed the importance of having reforms at GECOM before that entity embarks on a process of having a new voters’ list.

“Before we get a voters’ list, you have to have a system that the population has trust in, you can’t have a system where there is very little trust in that system. And the trust in the Secretariat at GECOM has been eroded significantly,” the President had expressed in early October.

In fact, the Head of State had announced plans to launch a Commission of Inquiry into the events that unfolded during and after the March 2 elections to help in identifying loopholes that need to be fixed.

Local Government Elections are due next year and already, the Government has announced that while it will provide the resources needed, administrative changes at GECOM are needed.

In fact, a number of top electoral officials including the Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and his Deputy, Roxanne Myers, are before the courts on a number of charges in relation to misconduct in public office and conspiracy to commit fraud regarding the 2020 polls.

GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj had told this newspaper that confidence must first be restored at the Elections Commission, after the tremendous damage it suffered during this year’s elections.

Meanwhile, in addition to a new voters’ list, Harmon said there are other reforms that are needed at GECOM.

“GECOM is GECOM. I will not make any statement which says we are supporting any breaking up of GECOM. If for example, there are some processes which may need to be reviewed, yes, I can see some processes that need to be reviewed,” the Opposition Leader outlined.

He also made reference to the Carter Center formula which provides for a balanced representation of ruling and opposition parties on the Elections Commission. The current formula provides for three Government Commissioners and three Opposition Commissioners along with a Chairperson to be appointed based on an agreement between the President and Opposition Leader.

Harmon said “I believe if any changes were need to be made, we need to review that [formula] and how the Secretariat functions and whether in fact this adversarial arrangement that is there, whether it is serving the interest of the Guyanese people,” Harmon posited.

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Where was he hiding?  If he thinks that he can tell the PPP how to do its job, he better think again. If he wants reforms done then he must drop his stupid petition and let the world spins again.

Reforms needed before another election in Guyana – Harmon admits

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon on Friday admitted that there are certain changes in the electoral system that need to take place before the country has another election.

“The constitutional reform committee is…important to us because we want to make certain interventions there so that we can have some changes made to certain aspects of our Constitution,”

“We know that constitutional reform will take a while but, in the meantime, we believe that in a bipartisan way, we can address issues which have been raised by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and by our own Court of Appeal in relation to our own electoral laws. We need to address those even before we get into another elections,” Harmon said during a press conference.

When the PNCR/AFC?APNU formed the government in 2015, the then Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo was assigned the prime responsibilities to make the needed changes to the constitution.

It will be of interest to know what he has done in the five plus years in government on this assignment.

Nagamootoo vows to bring about constitutional change

APNU+AFC candidate Moses Nagamootoo was yesterday sworn in as Prime Minister and first Vice-President of Guyana by newly-appointed President David Granger and vowed to bring about constitutional reform.

Arriving at the swearing in ceremony at the Ministry of the Presidency with his wife and daughter, Nagamootoo took the oath as Guyana’s new Prime Minister, replacing former PPP/C Prime Minister Samuel Hinds. He promised to perform his duties as Prime Minister and First Vice President without fear or favour.

https://s1.stabroeknews.com/images/2015/05/nagamootoo.jpgMoses Nagamootoo takes the oath as Prime Minister in the presence of President David Granger

Speaking with the media after he was sworn in, among other ministers of the coalition government, Nagamootoo stated that he will focus on bringing the government together but, moreover, high on his agenda is information and constitutional reform.

“I will be fully occupied but I will pay special attention to information and constitutional reform. Those are two big areas because we had promised the Guyanese people that we would have constitutional reform so I will pay special attention to that,” he stated.

He said he has an idea on where to begin with constitutional reform and part of that will be revising the powers of the president and excess powers of the executive.

“I want to start on humbling of the powers of the president, the excess powers of the executive and to bring about inclusion within the government system,’ he added.

He, however, indicated that whosoever would be heading the process of constitutional reform will have a “full plate” of issues to handle.

Nagamootoo added that his other priorities are to clean up the city and send a message to all Guyanese that the “elections are behind us and that we have to now work together.”

According to the Cummingsburg Accord of the APNU+AFC coalition government, the president will delegate the Prime Minister to be responsible for domestic national affairs and the chairing of the Cabinet; recommending Ministerial appointments and providing the organizational structures of Ministries for the approval of the President; nominating the Head of Agencies and Non-Constitutional Commis-sions with the required and agreed democratic mechanisms of consultation and also domestic security.

After Nagamootoo was sworn in along with the other ministers of government, President Granger reaffirmed his commitment to Guyana becoming a less segregated and poor country.

He told his ministers that they were on “one team” and that he was confident that they would give their support to him and Nagamootoo.

I posted over a hundred times they did nothing.  Moses thought that by going after the PPP ministers, the PNC would rejoice at their stupidity. They were wrong.  Desmond Hoyte made a deal to hold a free and fair election if Chedi Jagan did not prosecute the PNC for their misdemeanors and serious infractions. As a matter of fact, the PNC was disappointed with those two jokes.

Nagamootoo receives constitutional reform steering committee report

The Steering Committee on Constitutional Reform (SCCR) yesterday handed over its final report to Prime Minister Moses Nagamotooo, who will spend the next few days perusing it before it is taken to Cabinet for review.

Speaking following the handover, Nagamootoo said that the remit of the committee was to give direction and scope within which the constitutional reform process should take place. He noted that the coalition parties had placed the issue of constitutional reform high on their agenda.

“We hope that the guidance contained in this report, which is the final report, would be able to give us both enough time and space in which we could achieve the… [changes] in our constitution,” he said.

Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo receives the final report from Convenor Nigel Hughes in the presence of from left: Geeta Chandan-Edmond, Professor Duke Pollard, Gino Persaud and Tamara Khan. Chandan-Edmond and Persaud are members of the Steering Committee while the others would have provided support. Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo receives the final report from Convenor Nigel Hughes in the presence of from left: Geeta Chandan-Edmond, Professor Duke Pollard, Gino Persaud and Tamara Khan. Chandan-Edmond and Persaud are members of the Steering Committee while the others would have provided support.

“Today, I am going to try to read this and see what I would be able to do to take it forward, first to the Cabinet and then we would announce the further stages in the process,” Nagamootoo said.

He used the opportunity to express profound appreciation to attorney Nigel Hughes for convening the committee. He made mention of committee member Haslyn Parris who died earlier this year and thanked Professor Duke Pollard, who was present at the simple handing-over ceremony, for his help in seeing the project to finality.

Hughes, in brief remarks, paid tribute to Parris and to the late Sheldon McDonald, who headed the Law Department at the University of Guyana for the significant contributions he had made to the report.

He also singled out Professor Pollard and attorney Stephen Fraser for the assistance they had given to the committee.

Hughes told the media that he is not at liberty to disclose the contents of the report.

He said the committee met regularly on Fridays and finally submitted what he considers to be the “framework of the pathway of the constitutional reform commission” which it is hoped will be established shortly.

The SCCR came into being in August last year with a six-person membership: Hughes, Parris, Professor Harold Lutchman, Geeta Chandan-Edmond and Gino Persaud.

An interim report was handed over to Nagamootoo on December 31 last but the committee had asked for some more time to complete the full report. The committee had initially given a commitment to submit a full report at the end of last month but this was delayed due to the death of Parris.

The interim report had detailed how to balance executive powers with that of the judiciary and the legislature.

Nagamootoo had said last month that his expectation when the final report is out, is that it will identify priorities and timelines because they want the reforms to be completed before another general election.

Describing the interim report as a “good document,” Nagamootoo said it goes into some areas that are very detailed in terms of what ought to be changed in the constitution. “It includes looking at the powers of the presidency, the executive as such…what we had said during the campaign that we are going to tame some of those powers, we’re going to look also at the geographic system whether you have enough representation in the Parliament from geographic constituencies,” he related.

“So they had gone into some detail on how to change the nature of our parliamentary democracy and how to balance the executive powers with the power of the judiciary and that of the legislature,” the Prime Minister added. He said it was a very detailed excursion into a long list of areas.

It was all talk.  Nothing was done about it. A total waste of time.

They had gone into some detail on how to change the nature of our parliamentary democracy and how to balance the executive powers with the power of the judiciary and that of the legislature,” the Prime Minister added. He said it was a very detailed excursion into a long list of areas.

It looks like they were trying to control the judiciary, which should independent.

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