Press Release PNCR Statement on Meeting with GECOM, The Donor Community, The PNCR, The PPP/C and President Jagdeo People’s National Congress Reform Monday, February 14, 2005

This is the third meeting, which has been convened at the Office of the President, for the purpose of discussing matters pertaining to the preparation for elections in Guyana. At the first such meeting, which was chaired by the President, the President represented that the meeting was convened at the behest of the donor community. At that meeting the representatives of the PNCR were categorical in their contention that such a meeting should not be convened without the involvement of all of the parliamentary parties. We noted that the WPA/GAP and ROAR were not invited.

Our first observation about this meeting is that the practice of not inviting all of the parliamentary parties has persisted. In that regard, the PNCR reiterates that those parties are no less stakeholders in electoral matters in Guyana. They should therefore be invited, to any such meeting, as a matter of course. We also view their not being invited as symbolic of the manner in which the Parliament is treated and or regarded by the Party in Government.

The PNCR`s second observation is that the meeting is scheduled to discuss matters on which the Elections Commission is still to deliberate and or make decisions. We find it inappropriate and prejudicial for any forum, which incorporates the Elections Commission, to seek to discuss Hathaway’s Needs Assessment and the Way Forward for the Elections Commission. As far as we know, the Commission has not deliberated on the report nor has it concluded its consideration of matters such as continuous registration, additional biometric features and the compilation of the voters` list all of which are also addressed in the Hathaway report. Any meeting, which seeks to deliberate on and determine these matters, flies in the face of the constitutional mandate of the Elections Commission. The PNCR will not be party to any such usurpation or infringement.

There may be concerns about the slothfulness of the Elections Commission in the face of a constitutional due date of March, 2006 for the holding of elections. The PNCR shares those concerns and has already expressed its concern to the Commission. In that regard, inter alia, the combined opposition is scheduled to meet with GECOM on 15 Feb, 2005. There may be some irony in the convening of today’s (14 Feb.) meeting.

Hopefully, the donor community would appreciate the position, which the PNCR has articulated. May we take this opportunity to once again express our appreciation for the generous support, which the donor community has given to GECOM and matters electoral. However, it would be remiss if we did not restate that the funding of elections is the responsibility of the Government of Guyana and that irrespective of how much the donor community contributes the Government cannot on the basis of any perceived shortfall, in donor contribution, shirk its responsibility to ensure that elections of an acceptable standard are funded and conducted.

Having said, and on the basis of, the aforementioned the PNCR excuses itself from any further involvement in this meeting.

People’s National Congress Reform
Monday, February 14, 2005