PPP/C elections commissioners urge caution on local gov’t polls

With the government under immense pressure to call local government elections, the three GECOM commissioners representing the ruling PPP/C today urged caution with respect to the holding of these polls.
The trio: Mohamood Shaw, Dr. Keshav Mangal and Athmaram Mangar said there are a series of outstanding issues to be addressed. GECOM has however said repeatedly that it is prepared to hold elections once the government gives the order. The other members of GECOM are the Chairman and three commissioners appointed by the opposition.

The statement by the PPP/C commissioners follow:

We, the undersigned Commissioners, view, with immense concern, the calls for Local Government Elections and the declarations that GECOM is ready. We urge that these calls and declarations be treated with extreme caution. We will continue to work with the Chairman, our fellow Commissioners and GECOM’s Secretariat to address the following issues which are of concern:

Some operational issues that concern us and others include the following:
• Constituency boundaries and demarcation issues:

o Some constituency boundaries cut across established Divisions and Sub Divisions requiring field operations to effectively allocate existing registrants on the National Register of Registrants to a unique Constituency.
o Resolution of transfers of numerous electors particularly to constituencies indicated in the above point.
o Some constituencies do not have adequate registrants to effectively field adequate lists of candidates.
o The analysis of the National Register of Registrants and subsequent printing of lists for Local Government Elections require operations that involve the Information Technology Division which is without key top level and appropriate staff.

• There are also some key legislative issues including lacunae in Laws that govern Local Government Elections.

• There needs to be a vigorous education programme to inform and educate the populace on the new local government elections system, which comprise a mixture of the Constituency and Proportional Representation models, in which political parties as well as individuals and interested groups may contest the elections.

• The process to compile and analyze five hundred and eighty five (585) sets of nomination lists resulting in five hundred and eighty five (585) vetted two part ballot templates and subsequent printing of ballots will require significant time, effort and resources.

We believe that if these matters are not addressed, they can lead to disfranchisement.

It is for these reasons that we reiterate our call for an exercise of caution regarding any declarations and assumptions of GECOM’s readiness.

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