–prevent U.S. team from presenting plans to GECOM
THE International Republican Institute (IRI) was, on Tuesday, obstructed from presenting details of its proposed electoral reform project to the Chairman and Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Sase Gunraj, one of three Commissioners representing the governing People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C), related that the meeting was intended to be an information-sharing exercise to enlighten the commission and its commissioners on the 18-month project.
“It seems as though the opposition is scared of electoral reform, because it was a very naked attempt to frustrate an information-sharing process,” Gunraj contended in an invited comment on Tuesday evening. It was only this month that the U.S. Department of State announced that it will be supporting the project aimed at strengthening the capacity of GECOM and the Attorney-General’s Chambers, specifically as it relates to electoral processes, and to encourage civil society organisations (CSOs) to advocate for electoral reform in accordance with regional and international standards.
The project is intended to prevent a recurrence of the destabilising five-month election impasse in 2020.
Vincent Alexander, one of the three Opposition-nominated Commissioners of GECOM, told News-Talk Radio Guyana that the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) remains opposed to the project unless GECOM gets approval from both the opposition and the government, or the parliamentary Constitutional Reform Committee. Gunraj reiterated that Tuesday’s meeting was only aimed at enlightening GECOM on the scope of the project, and what it intends to achieve. “If this is part of the process of electoral reform and they are behaving like this; it is a clear testimony of their fear for electoral reform,” Gunraj noted.
He reiterated that GECOM remains a constitutional body that executes policies.
“As GECOM, we recognised that we are not able, as a body, to effect changes in the laws…that is far beyond our domain; GECOM is responsible for the implementation of the laws that are passed by Parliament to govern,” Gunraj emphasised.
He described the actions of the GECOM Opposition Commissioners as obstructionist behaviour intended to stymie electoral reform.
“GECOM cannot change the laws,” Gunraj reminded.
The practicing attorney-at-law told the Guyana Chronicle that the IRI group had informed GECOM that it already met with the Leader of the Opposition and his team.
“So, it is anybody’s guess as to what their intention is,” Gunraj posited.
He noted that notwithstanding Tuesday’s episode, he would still want to meet with the IRI as a member of GECOM, so as to get a more detailed understanding of the proposed project.