Aubrey Norton, the “small timer”, who managed to secure the seat as Leader of the Opposition is not going to have his way. Norton announced that there must be a new voters’ list before any other election can be held. Well, this will not happen. Norton will have to put his tail between his legs.

That is the condescending manner in which Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo spoke yesterday as he essentially declared that the government will not bend to facilitate any of the requests already made by the Leader of the Opposition regarding elections.

Dr Jagdeo took that position, amongst others, as he hosted a press conference at the Author Chung Convention Center.

According to Dr Jagdeo, Norton and his team have no genuine interest in securing a strong democracy and therefore any recommendation made under the guise of wanting to strengthen the election process can easily be identified as a thinly veiled attempt to have a repeat of 2020 elections shenanigans.

Dr Jagdeo said that the People’s Progressive Party will not be bullied into making changes that can easily result in litigation.

Speaking specifically about the request to remove the names of Guyanese who are living overseas from the Voters’ List, Dr Jagdeo said that that is a recipe for disaster. He said that all it would take is one non-resident Guyanese launching a court preceding and it can spell problems for the PPP- government post 2025.

The Vice President recalled that the PPP already felt the brunt of acting contrary to the provisions of the constitution. In this regard, he pointed to the Esther Perreira case.

Decades ago, the PPP and PNC both voted for the use of ID cards for voting. However, following the 1997 elections, Perreira, a PNC supporter, filed an elections petition challenging the validity of the elections on several grounds, one of which was that the elections were unlawfully conducted. It was argued that the provision made in Election Laws (Amendment) Act 1997 that a voter must produce a voter identification card to be able to vote, was unconstitutional because it added a qualification to vote which was not countenanced by the constitution.

As a result, the term of the PPP government was truncated by some two years.

Jagdeo said that the PPP will not be bullied into supporting changes that it knows can come back to haunt it.

He said that in addition to sticking to the rights of the people already enshrined in the law, the PPP will also strengthen existing electoral laws for the benefit of a strong democracy.

He said that with the impending amendments, no Chief Elections Officer (CEO) will have the sort of discretionary power that was wielded by Keith Lowenfield.

Also, manuals for the conduct of election will be issued three months ahead of elections and polling places will have to be identified “long before” election day.

Further, the Vice President noted that statements of poll will have to be posted on the Guyana Elections Commission’s (Gecom) website.

He emphasized that the amendments will include jailtime for elections offences.

Dr. Jagdeo said that the PPP will not be derailed or bullied into doing anything less. He stressed “Norton cyan bully me, he cyan bully (President Ali) Irfaan. He wants to bully Claudette (GECOM Chair), a woman, that’s all he is good for.”



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