AFC seeking its own chief scrutineer

The Alliance For Change (AFC) is seeking its own chief scrutineer for the upcoming voter registration and it is still a matter to be discussed with the main opposition PNCR.

AFC MP David Patterson, who has been representing the AFC in its meetings among opposition political parties with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) recently, told Stabroek News when contacted that the AFC has made its proposal for the payment of fees to the parliamentary opposition scrutineers based on the allocation of seats.

He said that the AFC was also against the joint opposition having only one chief scrutineer because “it was uncomfortable with endorsing a process where the opposition chief scrutineer would be a PNCR person.”

According to the Elections Laws (Amendment) Act of 2000, the government is entitled to one chief scrutineer and the joint parliamentary opposition, one, who would be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition.

A senior PNCR official who did not wish to be quoted told Stabroek News that the payment of scrutineers came about based on representation by PNCR Leader Robert Corbin who was then a GECOM commissioner and who argued that government should not have all the advantage in the scrutineering process because of its incumbency and having the advantage of securing money to pay its scrutineers while the opposition would be disadvantaged in this regard.

It was agreed that there would be scrutineers on both sides. However, there are now three parliamentary opposition parties.

According to the PNCR official, the question is not that the opposition parties’ scrutineers would not be paid, the question was how they were going to allocate the resources among the opposition parties. “The PNCR has not objected to meeting with the AFC since the AFC has written requesting a meeting on this matter,” he said.

The PNCR official said that they have not met as yet because the PNCR leader and its deputy leader were both out of the country. They both returned a few days ago, he said.

Patterson said that one of the concerns of the AFC was that on June 14, 2007, the government and parliamentary parties agreed to undertake a house-to-house registration process for all citizens above 14 years. On that occasion, he said, they agreed that at the end of the process and come municipal and local government elections and the 2011 general and regional elections no party should claim that the list was flawed.

However, Patterson said that the AFC was not comfortable with endorsing a process in which the chief scrutineer for the parliamentary opposition would be a PNCR candidate.

He noted, too, that the AFC and GAP/ROAR have combined forces to tackle the issue of scrutineers.

Meanwhile, the AFC is also contending that based on constitutional provisions the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) does have a legal responsibility to take part in the appointment of scrutineers and to be associated with their apportioning among the opposition parliamentary political parties.

Patterson told Stabroek News that GECOM was abdicating its legal mandate by saying that it had no legal responsibility to take part in the appointment of scrutineers when in fact Article 161 (B) of the Constitution states that “it is hereby declared that the role of political parties and their nominees in the conduct of elections by the Elections Commission shall be limited to their participation in determining policy, monitoring the electoral process and the conduct of the elections, but does not include active management of the electoral process.”

He noted, too, that 162 (1) (b) of the Constitution also states that GECOM shall have such functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections as are conferred upon it by or under this constitution or, subject thereto, any act of parliament; and or subject to the provisions or this constitution, the Commission

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