AG invalidates Aubrey Norton’s claims of poll showing Opposition’s victory at LGE polls

Attorney General Anil Nandlall has rubbished claims by Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton that there is a poll done by the ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) which shows that the APNU/AFC Opposition will defeat the PPP/C at the next elections.

AG Anil Nandlall SC

During his weekly programme, Issues in The News, Nandlall, who is a Central Executive Member of the PPP/C, denied the existence of any such poll, and called out Norton for fabricating this claim.
“This obviously is a concoction of his… I don’t know of any poll that was done. But I don’t know which pollster can come to a conclusion [that the] APNU/AFC at this point in time or any point in the near future is likely to beat the PPP at any elections… It’s either that he [Norton] invents these things, or he is so gullible that anyone can concoct a lie, irrespective of how outrageous the lie may sound to an objective listener or bystander, and he believes the lie. And what is worse, he regurgitates it publicly,” the Attorney General posited.

Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton

During his press conference on Tuesday, Norton claimed that “…the last poll showed that the combined APNU/AFC will beat the PPP at the next elections.” However, despite being continually pressed by a reporter, he refused to divulge any other details about this alleged poll.
“If I tell you my source, the persons in the PPP will be dealt with… It’s protecting the people who divulged it that makes it a source of privacy… Most political parties will do a poll, and based on the poll, they will work out the way forward, et cetera. And there are times when they wouldn’t publish it and there are times when, in the case of the PPP, they publish it, putting different statistics than what actually occurred,” the Opposition Leader alleged.
Norton was then asked that if this “poll” is showing a victory for the Coalition Opposition, then why has the party not taken a decisive decision on contesting the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) that are slated for March 13, 2023.
There is uncertainty over whether the APNU/AFC would participate in the upcoming polls.
While the Norton-led APNU faction of the Opposition has remained tightlipped on its participation in the LGE, the AFC said its Central Executive is yet to make a decision. Moreover, the minority Coalition partner is also considering whether to contest the elections together or on its own.
Norton, in responding to the reporter, contended that the Opposition would beat the ruling PPP/C “much more handsomely” if there is a clean voters’ list – something which the Coalition has been pushing for.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has already explained that it is guided only by the constitutional and legal provisions, which do not allow it to remove names from the voters’ list. It pointed to the recently concluded Claims and Objections exercise for the Opposition to use to object to the presence of those names that bloat the list. However, the APNU/AFC had refused to participate in the exercise, and even threatened to boycott the LGE.

Importance of LGE
But AG Nandlall has underscored the importance of the local government polls.
“Local governance and local government are of crucial importance, not only for the democracy of any country, but for grassroots representation, for governance at the level of the community; and it is that platform that allows the ordinary Guyanese to participate in the governance structure [and] play a real and true part in the political and administrative management of local affairs within the legal structure. The process is intended to produce a local cadre of leadership,” he explained.
Moreover, Nandlall went on to express the view that the APNU/AFC Coalition are at their “lowest ebb” within the decade, and cannot get their act together when it comes to anything, including their internal affairs. This was in response to Norton’s claim that the Opposition can “beat” the PPP/C.
“Whether they boycott the elections, whether they participate in the elections, we know that they are going to get a beating… We also know that they are afraid of the elections because it will delude them of all the ‘fat talk’ that we are hearing… they are mortally afraid,” the AG has said.
“Whether the APNU/AFC contests the elections as a collective or as individual parties, or whether they do not will not affect the credibility of the elections, neither will it affect the legality of the elections. It will have devastating political consequences for those who choose not to participate,” the Attorney General has asserted.
The long-overdue LGE is constitutionally due every two years in Guyana, but had been delayed over the past two years. At the last local government polls, held in November 2018, the then PPP/C Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 Local Authority Areas (LAAs). This followed the holding of the LGE in 2016, in which the PPP/C also claimed the majority of the LAAs. (G8)