Dear Editor,

PPP Commissioner, Clement Rohee has persisted, in letters to the Editor, his contention that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had no approved criteria for the conduct of the demarcation of constituency boundaries. In that regard, he sought to portray my position, on this matter, as ‘misinformed and misplaced’ and doggedly supported the acceptance of the CEO`s report on demarcation although the CEO, Mr Vishnu Persaud in his earlier report indicated that he along with his staff had unilaterally determined the criteria and procedures which were to be used to demarcate the boundaries since according to him there was “no reference” in GECOM`s records to “criteria”. The criteria used by the CEO were never approved by the Commission, expect for a post facto tacit approval when the CEO`s report was accepted by a majority vote.
I am therefore attaching hereto a submission that I made, which clearly demonstrates that:
1.   There are extensive references to criteria in GECOM`s records.
2.   When those records were drawn to the CEO’s attention, he then contended that those criteria had not been approved. It was further brought to his attention that the referenced criteria were consistent with Article 72. (2) of the Constitution, which prescribes for the defining of boundaries thus: “In defining the boundaries of any area into which Guyana may be divided … account shall be taken of the population, the physical size, the geographical characteristics, the economic resources and the existing and planned infrastructure of each area”, and had evidently been used in 2010 when constituencies where introduced as an aspect of Guyana`s local government electoral system,  yet the CEO and sections of the Commission persisted in taking actions that sought to give validity to the illicit attempts of the Minister to determine the boundaries.

***My submission of January 31, 2023 is as follows***

May I make the following observations in relation to the CEO`s latest Internal Report and his posture throughout this entire saga in relation to the application of Criteria in the Constituencies` Demarcation Exercise.
1.   At the inception, the CEO merely instructed his officers to determine whether the Minister`s illicit demarcation of constituencies was congruent with the provisions of section 38A. (5) of the LOCAL AUTHORITIES (ELECTIONS) (AMENDMENT) ACT 2009. (see the Internal Memo of Dec. 20, 2022 where the Logistics Coordinator was advised of a decision to conduct an exercise to examine the changes in constituencies which have been recently gazetted (sic) by the Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, to determine whether they are suitable for the purpose of conducting Local Government Elections). The congruence was confirmed and the Minister`s illicit demarcations recommended.
2.   In the second instance, the Secretariat unilaterally decided to apply two criteria: geography and population and on that basis, once again concurred with the illicit demarcations, not to mention that the relevant Guidance Memo  did not have prior approval of the Commission, and most scrutineers, from the main opposition party, were not involved  since the CEO proceeded with the exercise, over the weekend, although he had been informed that they had been sent home to return on the following Monday since the exercise had been put on hold the Friday morning.
3.   Thirdly, the unilateral decision with regards to the criteria was premised on the absence of any point of reference relative to the application of any predetermined criteria (see 3. 1 of the report dated January 13, 2023). This conclusion suggests that a search had not been done, or purposefully done, since many documents referencing the matter were subsequently brought to the CEO`s attention.
4.   Subsequent voluminous references to criteria were treated as being irrelevant since there was no approval of them in the records or in one instance no recording of the approved document in the Minutes, suffice to say that one Minute referenced their approval, and the Analysis of Consultation report submitted by the then CEO demonstrated that criteria which were repeatedly discussed had been applied and became the bases for the recommended demarcation of the constituencies. In 2010 the constituencies were demarcated in keeping with those recommendations, yet the CEO relies on no evidence of approval as his basis for ignoring the criteria, after he had unilaterally determined what the criteria should be. To wit, geography as one of his criteria merely meant sub-diving and/or combining of electoral divisions, as was the approach used in his first attempt to give effect to the illicit Order 50 of the Minister
5.   The CEO`s approach also included procedures (walking the ground and preparing a report) that were unilaterally determined and grossly deficient and exclusionary, although the references provided for  authentic procedures
6.   In every instance, the CEO`s course of action propagates the validation of the Minister`s illicit act.

Against the background of the aforementioned, I maintain that criteria and procedures previously applied by GECOM exist and should be applied in this instance.

Herein I have presented and rest my case for public judgment in the face of Commissioner Rohee`s dogged attempt to justify the erosion of a principled and rational approach to the conduct of GECOM`s affairs.

Vincent Alexander
GECOM Commissioner


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