Leader of the Opposition (LOO), Joseph Harmon is in favour of the possibility of the Canadian government helping to reform Guyana’s electoral laws and Constitution. He made this known during a virtual press conference yesterday.
It was the Attorney General (AG) and Legal Affairs Minister, Anil Nandlall, who raised with the Canadian High Commissioner, Lilian Chatterjee, the possibility of her country lending support to reform several pieces of Guyana’s electoral legislation to prevent a recurrence of the debacle that ensued the March 2 General and Regional Election (GRE).
“I raised with them the possibility of sending experts to assist me in reforming the electoral legislation, to ensure that the tragedy that occurred after March 2,  never reoccurs. You know that the government has committed to look at the Representation of the People Act and to look at various pieces of legislation to reform them in many respect so that we cover all the loopholes that have been exploited by political fraudsters after the March 2 Elections,” he said during his live call-in programme “Issues in the News” that was aired last week Tuesday.
Asked to react to the request, Harmon said that Canada has helped significantly in improving Guyana’s electoral administration in the past. He spoke about Canada’s expertise in such matters and that country’s move to facilitate the early declaration of elections results in Guyana. Harmon said that in the period 2011 and 2015, the Canadian Government sent machines to Guyana to explore the possibility of speeding up Guyana’s tabulation and declaration processes.
“So as far as I am aware, that is the extent to which the Canadians were involved. I’m not sure what else they are looking at, but if anything at all, maybe what will be important will be funding for electoral reform and the work which has to be done with respect to any changes which have to be done to our constitution,” he said.
Nandlall said last week that the objectives in reforming these electoral laws, include the mandatory publishing of Statements of Poll (SOPS) on a website by each contesting political party. He also noted the need for the implementation of oversight mechanisms to guard against ‘rogue’ Returning Officers “declaring wrong results”.
Also, he stressed the need for stringent measures to be employed in the hiring procedures and practices of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Moreover, he noted that a penal regime must be implemented as the elections body to protect against fraud. The two petitions laid in the Guyana courts by the APNU+AFC opposition is predicated on their argument that massive fraud took place during the March polls, which the PPP/C party emerged victorious; securing over 15,000 more than the APNU+AFC.