Gov’t working on amendments to Representation of the People Act -Vice President Jagdeo
-will consult stakeholders
-reform necessary to ensure fair, transparent process
The PPP/C Administration is drafting amendments to the Representation of the People Act and aims to have them completed by mid-year so that consultations could be held with the relevant stakeholders.
Vice President, Hon. Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo made this disclosure on Wednesday evening at an event hosted by the Private Sector Commission.
“In that Act, which requires a simple majority to pass, there will be some key reforms, so there is no ambiguity in how things are conducted. So, the areas which we have issues in are recruitment of staff … We have to build into the legislation a clear process for recruitment and placement of staff that is fair, open, transparent, random placement, so it favours none of the parties,” he said.
Dr. Jagdeo said this should include substantial penalties, a clear definition of how recounts are to be conducted and publication of the Statements of Poll before tabulation begins.
The Vice President said this process is necessary to ensure Local Government and other elections are conducted in a free, fair and transparent manner.
Consistent with the PPP/C manifesto promise, Dr. Jagdeo told the gathering that wider consultations with society would be hosted to determine the direction of governance and electoral systems. However, in the short term, the PPP/C Administration believes removing the compromised individuals, and a clearer Act are vital to moving forward.
VP Jagdeo named Chief Election Officer Mr. Keith Lowenfield, Deputy Chief Election Officer Ms. Roxanne Myers and Region Four Returning Officer Mr. Clairmont Mingo as persons who have contributed to the tainted image of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The trio is before the court on fraud and misconduct charges concerning the elections and its aftermath.
Dr. Jagdeo made it clear that the Government was never opposed to hosting Local Government Elections but had concerns about the secretariat officials’ integrity.
In response to a question regarding the prosecution of the elections officials, the Vice President said the PPP/C Government respects Guyana’s Constitution and will abide by it.
“The Commission is independent. They hired, and they should have fired, and that is why I am saying here tonight, I don’t see any reason why these individuals should be there, but it is for the Commission to take action, we can’t from the Executive, that would be interfering with the process, and we do not intend to interfere with any process of a constitutional institution,” he said.
VP Jagdeo added that an audit report submitted on the Commission had shown mismanagement of some $7 billion to $8 billion by known officials, further exposing some persons’ corrupt nature at the entity.
Notwithstanding these shortcomings, the Administration has allocated some $1.1 billion to hold Local Government Elections later this year.