The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) remains committed to respecting the independence of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the laws of our country, and upholding the constitution of Guyana. To that effect, the regime will respect whatever decisions the GECOM makes, says government’s Chief Whip and Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally.
Her utterance comes on the heels of GECOM Chairwoman Justice Claudette Singh’s decision on Tuesday to end the government-supported house-to-house registration and to merge the already-accumulated data of that process with the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRDB). Further, a decision was made to have an “extended” Claims and Objections period – the process that was being called for by the parliamentary opposition, the Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C).
The Chief Whip in her capacity as General Secretary of the Peoples’ National Congress Reform (PNCR), also said that the party is pleased that the data gathered from the registration will be considered in the new list of electors and that the party will use the proposed extended claims and objections period to “rigorously peruse and where necessary further sanitise the new list of electors.”
Quizzed on the rationale for the confidence on the claims and objections now, when it was previously not advocated for by the government prior to Justice Singh’s decision, Ally said, “We advocated for house-to-house registration because we believe that list was contaminated. The only way to sanitise the list, we believe, is house-to-house registration but, like anything else, we respect our constitution, we respect the courts [because] we are law-abiding citizens, and so we go with the flow. And if GECOM determines that this is the way to go to produce a credible list, so be it. We go with it.”
Yesterday, Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo said that the merging of the data with the National Register will delay the elections. He argued that 280,000 plus registrants will result in an unnecessary lengthy data processing exercise that will ultimately push the hosting of national and regional elections to April of next year.
Asked whether this was an accurate assessment, Ally said that it is not her, or her party’s place to say when elections will be held. In fact, that responsibility lies solely with GECOM.
“With regards to elections next year, I cannot answer that. GECOM has to state their readiness…GECOM is an independent agency, you know. We can’t influence GECOM. They have timelines and all sorts of things that they have to implement in order to have elections,” the Chief Whip said.
The PPP/C had also expressed concern that the merging of the two data sets will “further contaminate” the NRRDB. Ally, in her response to this concern, said that opposition’s argument of “further contamination” can be interpreted as the PPP/C’s acknowledgement that the list is contaminated. This concern of contamination of the NRRDB had initially led to the David Granger-led regime’s support of the house-to-house process.