In recent times, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been accused of not acting independently and, as a result, some critics are saying that the time has come for the Commission’s configuration to be restructured in a way that insulates it from political interference.
Sharing his views on the matter was Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, who told Guyana Standard this evening that his party remains open to the idea of restructuring. He noted, however, that it must be up to the people of Guyana to decide on the restructuring that would take place.
The PPP General Secretary said, “Any restructuring of GECOM is something that will be in the future and it will require a discussion. The current configuration evolved out of a particular history and whether it is time to change it should be a matter for the people of Guyana to decide on through constitutional reform and through the legislature…so we have an open mind on that issue.”
The Opposition Leader continued, “I share the view that GECOM has acted in a partisan manner in the past several months and this relates to the delay of elections and raising doubts about the voters’ list that they themselves had great confidence in until recently. The only way this could be fixed is if we have a chairman who enjoys the confidence of the president and the opposition leader.”
Jagdeo added, “But this is not the case because the current Chairman, Justice retired James Patterson, was unilaterally appointed by the President. We are hoping that our case before the Caribbean Court of Justice, which challenges the appointment of the chairman, is successful and we can return to a situation where we have an independent chairman who can keep the delicate balance at GECOM.”
Furthermore, given the closeness of elections, the Opposition Leader said it would be impossible at this time to have any changes to the current structure at GECOM. He was adamant nonetheless that the return of an independent Chairman is imperative at this point and is central to “a structure that has served us well for over 25 years.”