GECOM must hold LGE this year

Dear Editor,
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must hold Local Government Elections (LGEs) this year. Those elections are long overdue, contrary to the legitimate expectations of most of the Guyanese citizenry concerning GECOM’s execution of its constitutional mandate. Consequently, citizens’ clarion calls and the Government and other stakeholders’ trumpets ought not to be the decisive drivers for GECOM administrators to act with purpose and due diligence in the execution of the organisation’s role without fear or favour.
GECOM’s start, slow, and silent posture is insufficient for the required definitive approach. The situation breeds uncertainty about the confidence of getting on with the people’s business; or rather callously erodes the support and opportunity costs that timely execution of these elections is constitutionally designed to provide at the village, municipal, and community levels. Understanding this single conceptual position alone justifies the many reasons for the rollout of an assertive, time-bound, and purposeful approach by GECOM, through its Secretariat.
It is also factual that the PPP/C Government, in recent national budgets, made available adequate allocations to support these mandatory requirements, and these were approved by the National Assembly. Given the evidence-driven removal of prosecution of leading staff of the organisation previously associated with electoral fraud matters, one anticipates fewer hurdles in moving the necessary processes forward, and in particular for ensuring the LGEs are held within this year, as previously committed to by GECOM.
The Chairwoman and objective Commissioners must not be deterred by the recent unjustified Opposition convenient condemnation and pronouncements, provided that all operations are conducted within the ambit of the applicable legislation.
Our citizens are well aware that GECOM did a comprehensive and well-conducted period of Continuous Registration to update the Register of Registrants, and GECOM must now hold a short period of Claims and Objections to allow all stakeholders to peruse the List and make objective observations to inform further transparent and thorough preparation of the Voters List for the holding of LGEs.
There are serious challenges at many Neighbourhood Democratic and Municipal Councils. Over the period since the last LGE, all the NDCs and Municipalities have become depleted because of the serious loss of elected members. On many occasions, meetings are cancelled because of a lack of quorum. In many instances, required services to residents have been attenuated, while the People’s representation at the grassroots level is of premiere importance for informing the required areas for improvement. Further, the holding of LGEs would allow the communities to carefully nominate men and women who are prepared to serve their communities.
The delaying tactics of GECOM, or those attempting to influence the organisation to only conditionally hold elections subject to conditions of their party likeness, must not be tolerated. It’s known that GECOM wrote the Minister of Local Government, informing him about its unpreparedness to hold LGEs almost one year ago. It was not anticipated that the conveyed indication that the LGEs would be held earliest in 2022 would turn out to realise a position at this juncture, where there is still no confirmed timeline.
Of note, GECOM is yet to fill some crucial vacancies at the Secretariat. The Chairperson of GECOM, Justice Claudette Singh, must dispel the obstacles and pride herself on leading the organisation to execute the holding of LGEs as early as possible. Hence the Commission must develop a proper work plan for the holding of LGEs this year.
GECOM must be ready with a National Register of Registrants, and the very short period of Claims and Objections would enable the Preliminary List of Voters.
With the updated NRR obtained through an efficiently run Continuous Registration process, the delays in moving forward to the Claim and Objections to confirm the subsequent Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) are disappointing concerning the snail’s pace. The steps to ascertain a reflective PLE would ensure the holding of LGEs as soon as possible, and must be addressed immediately. GECOM should be aware that if there are other impacting circumstances, the transparency level requires full disclosure.
In Guyana, the lessons of the aftermath of the 2nd March 2020 Elections must keep this nation on any electoral undercurrents for our people to accept fairness and unite. Our people must participate in the LGEs; particularly, our young people must get involved to preserve our young and growing democracy. While Guyana is on the rise, we must develop a nation with brilliant young minds that will say no to racism and never allow anybody to divide us. LGE’s must be held this year.

Neil Kumar