WPA upset at GECOM about-face on registration

The WPA yesterday said it was disappointed at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) over its decision to “reverse” its position on reopening Claims and Objections.

GECOM earlier this week announced that a new round of Claims and Objections would be held to facilitate the registration of persons who were previously unable to register.

Like the rest of the opposition parties, the WPA said its objection was grounded in the principle of fairness and the concern that the election timetable could be undermined. “…GECOM has been made to act against its own informed judgment and allowed itself to venture into uncharted waters at the behest of the ruling party, which just happens to be the GECOM’s paymaster,” it noted in a statement.

GECOM’s decision, made on a 3 to 2 vote by its commissioners, followed a call by the ruling PPP/C for the process to reopened in order to facilitate potential electors now in possession of source documents needed to register. The PPP/C estimated that there are between 5,000 and 7,000 persons who now qualify.

Although the move was criticised by the APNU opposition coalition, which includes the WPA, as well as the AFC, the PPP/C has pointed out that the opposition parties had previously urged GECOM to address the situation of persons who were likely to be disenfranchised, owing to their inability to access source documents for registration.

The WPA, however, said the PPP’s criticism of the opposition is nothing but “political grand-standing and cheap propaganda.” It noted that the opposition parties had been informed by GECOM that it was not in favour of extending the Claims and Objections period. Further, it pointed out that since 2008, the Minister of Home Affairs flatly rejected a proposal to streamline the General Register Office, to make it more responsive to accessing source documents in a timely manner, with Home Minister Clement Rohee even informing GECOM that it should stay out of the business of birth certificates.

“It is scandalous for [the PPP] to be bombarding the state-owned media which they have appropriated as their private possession with the lie that the opposition parties are seeking to deny Guyanese citizens their right to vote,” WPA said.

The new Claims and Objections exercise is expected to commence on Monday and is scheduled to last for 13 days, with the Claims aspect running for 10 days.

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