The misuse of the state media and obstacles to voter registration are “major concerns” in the run up to this year’s general elections, the main opposition PNCR has told a visiting UNDP mission.
The party told the visiting delegation of the misuse of the state media “for PPP propaganda,” while describing it “as a dangerous development that would affect the smooth conduct of the forthcoming elections.”
The delegation is conducting a pre-election assessment of the technical assistance needs of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in its preparations for the polls. On Thursday, during a courtesy call on the PNCR it met with party leader Robert Corbin, party presidential candidate David Granger, Chairman Cammie Ramsaroop, General Secre-tary Oscar Clarke and party spokesperson Malika Ramsey.
In a statement, the party said that the mission expressed interest in Guyana’s current situation and political climate from the perspective of various stakeholders as this country prepares for elections.
Accordingly, the PNCR said it emphasised its concern about the radio monopoly and political control and misuse of the state media by the PPP administration.
With the lone radio station and the NCN television station being the only ones with complete national coverage, the party said “their politically-biased reporting and broadcasts were being deliberately used to mislead and deceive the public.” Corbin also noted the government’s continued refusal to permit private owners to extend and strengthen their television signals while at the same time doing the opposite with both state radio and television stations.
He said equally aggravating was the refusal to establish a National Broadcasting Authority, in accordance with guidelines already agreed, which would have seen the licensing of private radio stations. Corbin, the party said, opined that the recalcitrance of the administration and the political misuse of the state media “could force the setting up of private broadcasting entities without licenses; a situation that could eventually create a crisis.”
Meanwhile, the party also highlighted the remaining obstacles facing citizens in getting registered, and in particular obtaining source documents for the process. The PNCR noted that sufficient effort is not being made by the PPP/C administration to facilitate citizens obtaining basic source documents so that they can register. “The PNCR had previously recommended that a special unit be established at the General Register Office (GRO) to fast-track the procedures and better facilitate persons in need of assistance to obtain their source documents,” it said.
In February, Registrar General Greta McDonald assured that there was no backlog of applications for birth certificates, in response to political parties’ concerns over persons not being registered be-cause of the inability of the GRO to deliver birth and marriage certificates in a timely manner.
According to the party, despite the Registrar’s denial, “the problem remains.”
It noted that the situation has also been acknow-ledged by GECOM.
Additionally, it said Clarke confirmed that he had sent a list containing the names of several persons experiencing such problems to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the GRO to support its claims.
The UNDP delegation comprised Programme Manager for the local UNDP Office, Trevor Benn; Senior Programme Advisor for the LAC Oversight and Support Centre, Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean Carla, Khammar; Electoral/ Political Affairs Officer, Electoral Assistance Division Department of Political Affairs, Eiko Lkegaya; and, Electoral Advisor on Democratic Governance Group, Bureau of Development Policy, Linda Maguire.