CANADA’S High Commissioner to Guyana, Lilian Chatterjee, has said that her country is willing to assist the Guyana Government with relevant support to develop the legislative sector which also includes reforming electoral statutes.
During a recent meeting with Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, the high commissioner also congratulated the new government and disclosed that she was impressed with their performance thus far.
The Attorney General (AG) began the meeting by thanking the ambassador for the role she personally played, that of her staff and the Canadian Government’s tremendous support to the people of Guyana with respect to the March 2, 2020 National and Regional Elections.
The AG indicated that because of the international community, democracy has prevailed and the will of the people was not stolen by political fraudsters.
The high commissioner expressed her government’s willingness to continue to partner with Guyana in pursuing its development agenda.
She explained that they are several current projects from which the Legal Affairs Ministry can continue to benefit, including the Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean in Guyana, Judicial Reform and Institutional Strengthening in the Caribbean in Guyana and Access to Justice for the Indigenous Peoples in Guyana.
These projects fund and assist in multiple initiatives in the justice sector, including provision of funding for training, law books and a host of equipment, as well as assistance in the legislative sector.
The attorney general outlined that some of his immediate as well as long-term plans for the legal sector include updating of the Guyana law reports; law revision; law reform; promulgation of a series of legislation; reviewing and reforming the electoral statutes; constitutional reform and various other initiatives.
An officer of the Legal Affairs Ministry will be appointed to liaise with the High Commission as the two agencies continue to collaborate on the various initiatives, which will be pursued.
Meanwhile, on a recent programme of “Issues in the News,” on his weekly live Facebook programme, Nandlall said “the government has committed to looking at the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and other pieces of legislation to reform them to cover all the loopholes that have been exploited by the political fraudsters after the elections.”
Among the proposed reforms, the AG said, is ensuring that Statements of Poll (SoPs) are published by the respective political parties on a website and made public within hours of receipt.
Efforts will also be made to ensure that oversight mechanisms are in place to scrutinise the work of Returning Officers (RO), thereby guarding against the declaration of false results by rogue officers.
The proposals also include a system where employment procedures and practices are used to ensure that the best candidates are selected to work at elections and to also have fixed qualifications, character references and testimonials for those officials.
It is also seeking to ensure that there is a severe penalties for electoral offences that will deter any official from wrongdoing during the elections.
“All these matters are under review by my ministry and I need as much technical assistance that I can get and Canada has rendered significant support to our electoral process over the past few years. The high commissioner indicated her government’s commitment to assist us in that regard,” AG Nandlall said.
Canada was very vocal during Guyana’s electoral dispute, joining with other western countries in condemning the former APNU+AFC administration for attempting to derail the country’s democracy.
The former government was accused of holding on to power when it was clear that it had lost the elections. Several high-level Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials have since been charged.