ELECTORAL REFORM BEFORE LOCAL GOVERNMENT ELECTIONS--PRESS RELEASE Tuesday 16 March 2010




In a letter dispatched, today, March 16, 2010, to the Guyana Elections Commission, the Leader of the Opposition expressed the concerns of the People’s National Congress Reform and, indeed, all Opposition political Parties and several stakeholders that, GECOM was continuing its preparation for the holding of Local Government Elections without the implementation of Local Government Reform as required by Chapter VII of the Constitution.

More particularly, the Opposition Leader pointed out that, the provisions of Articles 71, 73A, 77A, 78A and 78B have not yet been adequately provided for by legislation. In these circumstances, he urged GECOM to take whatever action it deems appropriate to ensure that the Constitutional requirements for a fully reformed Local Government System are met before the holding of Elections.

The PNCR is fully mobilized and ready to participate in a properly run and constitutionally held Local Government elections. The position of the PNCR, however, that Local Government elections should not be held before the implementation of Local Government reforms has been repeatedly stated over the last 4 (four) years.

On Monday last, March 8, 2010, the PNCR Leader, Mr. Robert Corbin, following decisions taken by the PNCR’s Central Executive Committee, conveyed to President Bharrat Jagdeo the position of the PNCR on this matter.

On Wednesday, March 10, the PNCR met and consulted with representatives of the Alliance For Change (AFC) and GAP-ROAR and also conveyed the position of the PNCR. The PNCR has also consulted, as stated at its last Press Conference, with several other stakeholders.

At the meetings referred to above the President undertook to have this matter discussed at the level of the Central Committee of the PPP and the AFC undertook to do likewise. Since then, the AFC has publicly stated its position and we await a public statement from the PPP on this mater

Nevertheless, the PNCR hopes that its letter to GECOM today will stimulate the appropriate responses to facilitate a determination on the way forward.

In this context, the PNCR makes available to the public the letter dispatched to GECOM today with its attachments.


People’s National Congress Reform
Congress Place, Sophia
Georgetown, Guyana
Tuesday 16 March 2010



March 16, 2010

Dr. Steve Surujballi,
Chairman
Guyana Elections Commission
Cowan & High Streets
Kingston, Georgetown

Dear Dr. Surujballi,

LOCAL GOVERNMENT REFORM BEFORE ELECTIONS:

I wish to bring to your attention the serious concerns of the PNCR and, indeed, all Opposition Parties and several stakeholders that GECOM is continuing its preparation for the holding of Local Government Elections without the implementation of Local Government Reform as required by Chapter VII of the Constitution. More particularly, the provisions of Articles 71, 73A, 77A, 78A, 78B, have not yet been adequately provided for by legislation. In these circumstances, we urge you to take whatever action you deem appropriate to ensure that the Constitutional requirements for a fully reformed Local Government System are met before the holding of Elections.

Over the past four years, the PNCR and indeed all political Parties including, the PPP/C, had agreed that the completion of Local Government Reform was a natural prerequisite for the holding of local Government Elections. It is for this reason that the Parliament has continuously postponed the holding of these Elections since they were due in 1997. Indeed, when the Agreement for the New House to House Registration was signed by all political parties and GECOM on the 14th June, 2007, the clear understanding of all was that the Reforms were to be completely implemented. The Position of the Parliamentary Opposition Parties was also made public in Joint Press Statements dated May 18, 2007, and November 19, 2007. (Copies of the said statements are attached for ease of reference).

In a Press Statement dated since April 19, 2007 the PNCR stated,

“The continuous postponement of Local Government Elections which have been deferred for nine consecutive years was predicated on one main reason: an acceptance by all of the need to complete local government reform in accordance with the mandate of the revised Guyana Constitution. It should be obvious that the Elections cannot be held unless and until the recommendations of the Task Force set up for this purpose are fully implemented. …….
The reform under articles 72-79 of the Constitution provides for:-

• a new electoral system
• autonomy for local government
• the establishment of a local government commission
• an objective system for fiscal transfers and revenue garnering
• re introduction of village/community councils
• a system of lower tiers representation on higher tiers
• a system of recall for malfunctioning Councillors”

It should therefore be obvious that the reform of the Electoral System is but one small part of the requirements of Local Government Reform as required by the Constitution of Guyana. Consequently, it is questionable whether any Elections in the absence of these Reforms would be Constitutional.

We have discussed this matter and shared our views with all parliamentary political parties including, the PPP and with the President of Guyana. We therefore urge you to take what ever action you deem necessary to facilitate the compliance with the requirements of the Constitution and the agreements made by all Political Parties and to ensure a common position is arrived at for the way forward.

Your favourable consideration would be highly appreciated.

Yours sincerely,


…………………….
Robert H O Corbin, MP
Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform & the Opposition

Cc: All Commissioners, GECOM
President of Guyana
General Secretary, PPP
Mr. Raphael Trotman, MP, Leader, AFC
Mr. Paul Hardy, Leader, GAP/ROAR, C/o Mr. Everall Franklin, MP
Mr. Oscar Clarke, General Secretary, PNCR



PRESS RELEASE
By the Parliamentary Opposition Parties,
PNCR-1G, AFC and GAP-ROAR
Friday, May 18, 2007

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties met today, Friday 18 May 2007, and agreed the following:

1. Their agreement with the unanimous decision of the GECOM Commissioners, (at their Statutory meeting, on Tuesday 20 February 2007), that the undertaking of House-to-House Registration is a necessary requirement for the preparation of a clean and acceptable Voters List to be used for the holding of Local Government Elections. The Parties were individually informed and assured by the Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, during his consultations with them, in January 2007, that GECOM is committed to undertake House-to-House Registration prior to the holding of Local Government Elections;

2. That the Reform of the Local Government System, as recommended by the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform, including the reform of the Local Government Electoral System, the institution of the new system for Fiscal Transfers and the establishment of the Local Government Commission, should be fully implemented prior to the holding of Local Government Elections;

3. That the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform should be responsible for overseeing the drafting of the new Local Government Act to ensure that its provisions accurately reflect their recommendations;

4. That they are all disturbed by recently received information that GECOM is reconsidering its commitment on the undertaking of House-to-House Registration, prior to the holding of Local Government Elections. In the circumstances, they would be writing today to Dr Surujbally requesting an urgent meeting with himself and the GECOM Commissioners, on Monday 21 May 2007, to clear the air on the reliability of this information.

5. That, in view of the critical and pivotal role of the Donor Community, for the granting of assistance to the Government of Guyana to discharge its constitutional responsibility for the funding of Elections, they would seek an early meeting with the key members of the Donor Community to ascertain their views on this very sensitive and vital national matter.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties were represented by Mr. Robert Corbin, MP (Leader of the PNCR-1G and the Opposition), Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, MP (Leader of the AFC), Mr. Raphael Trotman, MP (Chairman of the AFC), Mr. Keith Scott, MP (Leader of the National Front Alliance and PNCR-1G), Mr. Everall Franklin, MP (GAP-ROAR), Mr. Oscar Clarke (General Secretary, PNCR-1G), Mr. Basil Williams, MP (PNCR-1G and Member of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform) and Mr. E. Lance Carberry, MP (PNCR-1G and Opposition Chief Whip).

Georgetown, Guyana.
May 18, 2007



Parliamentary Opposition of Guyana
Parliament Building
Georgetown
Guyana


PRESS RELEASE

By the Parliamentary Opposition Parties
PNCR-1G, AFC, and GAP-ROAR
Monday 19 November 2007

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties met on Thursday 15 November 2007, with the GECOM Opposition Commissioners, to be briefed on the state and status of GECOM preparations, for the conduct of the House-to-House Registration exercise.

On the basis of the reports received and the ensuing discussion, the following was agreed:

1. That the Parties should immediately seek to have urgent meeting with the Chairman and Commissioners of GECOM, to clarify, among other matters: the position with respect to the issuing of new National ID Cards to all persons, to be included on the new NRR, to be prepared as a result of the House-to-House Registration, and the decommissioning of all existing national ID Cards; the likely commencement date for House-to-House Registration; and the proposals from GECOM for legislative/Constitutional changes by the National Assembly.

2. That the Parties should also seek to have an early meeting, with the US, UK, Canada and EU representatives of the Donor Community, to apprise them of our concerns about the current arrangements for the conduct of the House-to-House Registration.

The Parties also reaffirmed their position that, their Reform of the Local Government System, as recommended by the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform, including the reform of the Local Government Electoral system, the institution of the new system for Fiscal Transfers, the establishment of the Local Government Commission, and the conduct of a comprehensive public education programme to ensure public understanding of the new systems and procedures, should be fully implemented prior to the holding of Local Government Elections.

In that context, the Parties would seek assurance that the Joint Task Force, on Local Government Reform is responsible for overseeing the drafting of the new Local Government Act to ensure that its provisions accurately reflect their recommendations.

The Parties noted, with deep concern, the growing examples of the Government’s bad faith, with respect to its commitments in the agreements signed by the Parties, on 14 June 2007, in the presence of the representatives of the Donor Community.

The Parliamentary Opposition Parties were represented by Mr. Robert Corbin, M.P., (Leader of the PNCR-1G and the Opposition), Mr. Raphael Trotman, M.P. (Leader of the AFC), Mr. Paul Hardy (Leader of GAP-ROAR), Mr. Winston Murray, M.P. (Chairman of the PNCR), Mr. Oscar Clarke (General Secretary, PNCR), Ms. Amna Ally, M.P. (Chief Scrutineer of the PNCR-1G), Mr. Basil Williams, M.P. (PNCR-1G and member of the Joint Task Force on Local Government Reform), Mr. David Patterson, M.P. (Chief Scrutineer of the AFC) and Mr. E. Lance Carberry, M.P. (PNCR-1G and Chief Whip, Opposition).


Georgetown, Guyana.
19 November 2007