…affected areas listed on website
As the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) finalises preparations for the upcoming Local Government Elections, it has announced that there will be no voting in those Local Authority Areas (LAAs) where there is only one contestant approved.
Following the April 17 Nomination Day, GECOM has since approved the List of Candidates for political parties, individuals or groups who are contesting the June 12 Local Government polls.
In a statement on Friday, the Election Commission pointed to Section 54 of the Local Authorities (Elections) Act, which provides that if only one List of Candidates for any Local Authority Area has been approved, the persons whose names appear on the list shall be deemed to have been elected as Councillors due to the approved list being unopposed and therefore, the candidates in the unopposed list shall be declared the winner of the election.
To this end, GECOM disclosed that there are 13 LAAs with a combined total of 98 constituencies, and 193 additional constituencies from among other LAAs in which there will be no need for eligible persons to vote due to the existence of unopposed Lists.
“The existence of an unopposed List of Candidates for a LAA/Constituency effectively means that there is no need for the electors to vote. Accordingly, there is no need for the establishment of Polling Stations in such LAAs/Constituencies,” the Commission explained in its missive.
Further recognising that voters may not be aware of whether the LAA/Constituency in which they are registered to vote would have been affected by an unopposed List, GECOM has posted the separate lists of the affected LAAs and Constituencies on its website at www.gecom.org.gy.
This will allow eligible persons to check and ascertain whether elections would be held in their areas of residence. Alternatively, person may visit the Office of the Returning Officer for the Municipality or Neighbourhood Democratic Council, in which they reside, to find out whether voting will take place therein.
Moreover, GECOM said as a component of its civic and voter education strategy, it will make public announcements and distribute appropriate literature in all of the affected LAAs/constituencies towards ensuring that the relevant voters are made aware of why they are not required to vote at the upcoming Local Government Elections.
The current ruling People’s Progressive Party/Civic has already indicated its intention to contest all 610 constituencies in the 80 LAAs across the country.
In fact, the party’s General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo, is already claiming victory in those areas where the PPP/C is contesting alone.
He explained that the Opposition PNC-led A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is only contesting 260 of the 610 constituencies, while groups and individuals are contesting, outside of those 260 areas, in another 58 constituencies. This means that APNU and other groups or individuals are contesting in a total of 318 constituencies.
“So, you still have 292 constituencies where neither APNU or individuals or groups are contesting in the country. So, that means that the PPP has won in those areas already – 292 of the 610 and that could be factually checked,” the General Secretary stated at a press conference on Thursday.
He went on to further outline that APNU is not contesting in 25 of the 80 LAAs but other groups are contesting.
“So, of the 80 Local Government Areas across the country, 67 are contested by APNU or other groups or individuals. So, that means 13 of the LAAs are not being contested by any other party or individual except the People’s Progressive Party so that means, effectively, we’ve won in those areas,” Jagdeo contented.
Over the past few weeks, the PPP General Secretary has been calling out the APNU Opposition over its persisting lies about the areas and constituencies it is contesting.
Despite evidence to show otherwise, Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton has been insisting that his party will be contesting “practically all” the LAAs.
According to Jagdeo, with Norton insisting that they’re contesting practically all of the LAAs he is not only lying to the nation but is also making a “dangerous implication”.
“[Norton is] practically implying that all the so-called independent groups were part of the APNU front and they didn’t contest as APNU in these areas, but as independent group. So, this is dangerous because if it is true, APNU is trying to disguise itself in some of these Local Government Areas because it’s a shame of its track record. And if it is not true, then what he is done, he’s branded all of those individuals and groups contesting outside of APNU in these Local Government Areas as up new front. So, it’s very, very dangerous for those people who are contesting now because he’s implied that they are all APNU fronts,” the General Secretary stated.
On this note, Jagdeo has called on those individuals and groups that are independently contesting the elections to speak out and publicly disassociate themselves from APNU before they are branded as APNU front organisations.
At the last LGE held in November 2018, the then PPP/C Opposition had secured 52 of the 80 LAAs. This had followed the holding of the 2016 Local Government polls, where the PPP/C had also claimed the majority of the LAAs.
Meanwhile, even as GECOM is preparing for the upcoming LGE, the APNU has moved to the courts to block the holding of the elections. Despite GECOM already ruling out any fraud and approving the lists of candidates for all contesting parties, individuals and groups, Norton has disclosed that legal proceedings were filed at the High Court on Wednesday in light of GECOM’s failure to address instances of fraud the party has made about the PPP’s nomination lists.
Additionally, the Opposition party is also claiming that the Election Commission acted unlawfully when it changed the boundaries of 37 constituencies in 19 Local Authority Areas and wants the court to order GECOM to comply with the legal provisions in relation to changing the boundaries as well as postpone the long overdue June polls until this is done. (G8)