HIGHLIGHTING that every step in the electoral process in Guyana is legally determined, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C., on Tuesday, called out Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton for his “uneducated” positions on the Official List of Electors, accusing him of creating unnecessary tensions in the country.
The Legal Affairs Minister made these remarks during his weekly Facebook programme “Issues in The News” in response to the recent pronouncements made by the Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton who said that his party will not support any elections unless the Official List of Electors (OLE) is changed.
During the programme, Nandlall shared sentiments he said were also expressed by President, Dr Irfaan Ali that nothing is wrong with the current voters list, noting that the threat of no elections by Mr. Norton should be ignored.
AG Nandlall maintained that the country is governed by a constitution, adding that the election, whether general, regional or local, is a legal process for which the timeframe is fixed by law. The list used, he maintained, is also a matter of law.
The conduct of elections, Nandlall noted further, is entrusted not to politicians but to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as an independent constitutional body.
“GECOM must have a list ready at the appropriate time fixed by the law, and must have the machinery ready at the appropriate time fixed by the law for elections,” Nandlall said.
As it relates to the List of Electors, the Attorney General noted that there was a ruling from the Court that has direct bearing on the said list.
In his explanation, the Attorney General said there was a clear pronouncement made by Guyana’s Chief Justice that names cannot be removed from the list on the basis of residency.
Additionally, he continued, once a person is 18 years and is a Guyanese, they are qualified and shall be registered.
Meanwhile, he added, if a person’s name is on the list, that person’s name can only be removed if that person dies. That, he said, is the law of the country.
It should be noted that the very list of electors which Norton and the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) now condemns is the same list that was used in the 2011 and 2015 General and Regional Elections (GREs) which saw that coalition party gaining a one-seat majority in the former, and ultimately ascending to government in the latter year.
Added to this, AG Nandlall also said that the list was similarly used in the 2016 and 2018 Local Government Elections, when the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) trumped the APNU+AFC in both local government polls, and ultimately defeated them in the 2020 GREs.
As it relates to the postponement of the Local Government Elections which were to be held in 2020, AG Nandlall underscored that a legal process was followed through with in which the Minister of Local Government issued an Order postponing the election in keeping with the law, after he received guidance from the GECOM that the conditions were not yet right.
“If you would recall, GECOM did not have a number of important officers at the time in its employment… including a Chief Elections Officer and a Deputy [Chief Elections Officer],” AG Nandlall said, highlighting the conditions which caused GECOM to report to the government that LGEs could not be facilitated as yet.
“So, Mr. Norton will not determine what type of list is used; the law determines what type of list is used and GECOM is responsible for the production of that type of list to satisfy the law.
“And that list must be compiled in accordance with the law,” Nandlall acknowledged
The Minister of Legal Affairs reiterated that every step of the electoral process is a legal one and the legal chain must be followed “link by link” when it comes to elections.
“Mr Norton does not make sense when he makes these public pronouncements. And he does his image no good, he does his constituents no good, he does his party no good when he continues to make these vacuous, uneducated outbursts.
“And he does it in this threatening way as if anybody is intimated by him, or he can have that impact,” Guyana’s Attorney General said, concluding that the Opposition Leader’s positions continues to create unnecessary tensions in the country.