Removal of residency requirement makes law consistent with Constitution
-VP shuts down opposition argument
Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has shut down the Alliance For Change’s (AFC) argument that the removal of the residency requirement from the Representation of the People Act (ROPA) and the National Registration Act (NRA), is a major blow to democracy.
Responding to the statement during a programme on Friday, the vice president said the AFC’s claim, as made by its leader, Khemraj Ramjattan, “is a pure clown show that will rival any circus in the world.”
“This has been in the public domain for almost eight months …the explanation is when the Constitution removed that in 2001, the law is inconsistent with the Constitution of Guyana so now that we have a ruling from the Chief Justice, the law has to be consistent, an ordinary law with the supreme law of the country – the Constitution of Guyana,” the VP explained.
Recognising the disastrous events immediately following the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, the PPP/C Administration championed amendments to the ROPA. These amendments are to prevent further abuse of the electoral system and promote transparency.
It also seeks to enhance, modernise and reform the democratic quality of the country and make the electoral machinery and the registration process more transparent, accountable and effective.
Government had said, the 2020 elections brought to light, that the way the legislation was designed, it was subject to abuse.
Amendments were made to the National Registration Act, Cap. 19:08, which seek to strengthen and clarify the concept of a continuous registration system which is provided for by law.
Fixed periods for voter registration, regular removal of deceased persons from the official list of electors, and cyclic issuance of national Identification Cards are among the significant amendments the Act.
The amendments to the NRA go hand-in-hand with amendments to the ROPA and complete the cycle of amendments being made to the electoral system.
The attorney general had said the bill, like ROPA, contains a number of necessary amendments, which bring clarity to ambiguous sections of the law. Under the amended act, references to residency and house-to-house registration are removed.
Instead, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will be responsible for the establishment of offices in registration districts, at which registration officers will receive registration applications of eligible persons with addresses in that district.
In addition, the bills were subject to several rounds of public consultations.