Region 9 officials accused of manipulating voters’ list for Parishara village elections

Region Nine officials are being accused of manipulating the voters’ list for village elections in Parishara after the names of two persons nominated for positions on the village council were omitted.

Lionel John who was nominated for the position of Toshao and John Alfred who was nominated as a councillor were not on the official list of voters when Regional Chairman Wilson Lorentio took the list there last week, residents told Stabroek News. The absence of their names from the list meant that they could not vote nor could anyone vote for them.

When contacted yesterday, Lorentio was at the opening of the Lethem rodeo. Subsequent calls to his cellular phone went unanswered.

The elections for the village located in Central Rupununi were supposed to be held last Thursday but have since been postponed. The reason for the postponement is not clear. At least 58 villagers have since signed a petition objecting to the delay in elections.

The reason was “the names of the candidates nominated for toshao, Mr. Lionel John and for councillor, Mr. John Alfred did not appear on the official list of candidates,” the document sent to the Regional Executive Officer and copied to several other regional officials said. “We will be very grateful to know who makes the decision to omit names of our candidates without our free, prior and informed consent,” the document added. “For too long, very few people have been making arbitrary decision on our behalf hampering the development of our community,” the letter read.

Two Region Nine residents with knowledge of the issue expressed concern at the development. They said that villagers are complaining of being victimized. According to the residents, villages are being told that if they vote for opposition members, they will not receive assistance. The PPP/C received the most votes in the region at last year’s general elections.

“There is interference from regional and government   officials,” said one  resident. “They are trying to ensure that their people are in position.”

Amerindian villages across Guyana this month are holding elections to select new village councils. Village council elections are held every three years.  The charges by the residents yesterday are not the first that have erupted during this cycle.

Late last month, a member of the Community Development Council (CDC) of Aranaputa, also in Region Nine, accused the government of interfering in the preparations of the community’s upcoming elections. The CDC planned to hold its elections to elect a new chairman and executive on April 27, when the three-year life of the current council expires.

However, according to a councillor, the CDC held a public meeting, where the Regional Executive Officer (REO) Claire Singh told villagers that the council should hold its elections on April 15, to be proceeded by a nomination day on March 23. She also stated that she was in possession of a list of 200 persons who are eligible to vote, the councillor said.

According to the councillor, the announcement immediately raised concerns among members of the CDC and villagers, since the community has at least 340 persons who are eligible to vote, while the list presented at the meeting did not include the names of several persons who are running for positions on the council. He said that another councillor objected at the meeting, stating that in the history of the community, the council always sets the date for elections.

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