In light of the attempts that were made by certain agents attached to the coalition as well as the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to rig the 2020 General and Regional Elections, Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said that the process has already been initiated to ensure this does not occur for the next elections. In this regard, the official said he has already instructed a team within his office to gather all the relevant laws so that the loopholes that led to the 2020 electoral madness can be closed.
During a recent radio interview, the AG said, “…I have already assembled a small unit which will be acting directly under my supervision. I have already instructed that they get up all the requisite pieces of legislation which in my humble view should form the basis of the review. When I have that together, I will hold consultations. And when I say me, I mean the People’s Progressive Party—I am only the instrumentality through which they will act.”
Nandlall said that the PPP will be holding consultations with several stakeholders so that this crucial work can be completed.
He explained that these would not be constitutional changes but rather, amendments to the Representation of Peoples Act which would ensure that there are clear provisions which state for example that only the Statements of Poll (SOP) must be used as the basis for the tabulation of the results. He said that this must be absolutely clear so that one cannot substitute it with a falsified spreadsheet in the same way Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo did during the 2020 elections. He recalled that Mingo had used a doctored spreadsheet that he or someone else had put together which sought to show that the APNU+AFC had garnered sufficient votes to win the elections.
Further to this, Nandlall said that the laws have to change to state that SOPs must be put online by GECOM and by all political parties by law, within 24 hours of receiving them, and consequences must flow when they refuse to do so if they have it in their possession. The AG said too that additional biometrics, if possible, will be introduced into the law to protect the integrity of this process.
Additionally, Nandlall wants the law to state that no Chief Elections Officer (CEO) can reasonably or unreasonably prepare a report of his own which seeks to make votes cast invalid. He said, “We must state in the law that invalidity of votes can only be determined at an election petition… The law must state what that report must contain and we have to make the language clear…”
Further to this, Nandlall was keen to note that there are few offences that are in the law which speak to the electoral officials and the role they play in trying to rig the elections. He said moves have to be made to ensure the creation of offences to imprison for life, those officials who attempt to compromise the electoral machinery and process at any stage, and that the higher the office the official holds, the greater the penalty imposed upon him.
“So this is a fundamental cornerstone of our agenda in government…It is in our interest to protect this democracy. And we know other political parties, because of their track record, because of their incompetence, because of their corruption; they can only win by fraud. We have to strengthen our system to ensure that the fraud does not succeed,” the Attorney General concluded.