A.P.N.U does not, alas, find it surprising that the PPP is accusing the opposition parties of attempting to deny the right of eligible Guyanese to be on the Voters List. Is this the same PPP who, through their Minister of Home Affairs, Mr. Clement Rohee, scuttled the project submitted by GECOM in 2008 to establish a special unit in the General Registrar Office (GRO) to expedite the issuing of birth certificates in a timely manner so that no eligible Guyanese would be excluded from the List for want of a birth certificate?
Is this the same PPP whose Minister of Home Affairs told GECOM in effect that they should stay out of GRO business that was the exclusive business of his Ministry?
To now clothe themselves in virtue and parade as knights in shining armour charging to the defence of the unregistered is an exercise of the cheapest cynicism and political opportunism.
When GECOM made the decision not to extend the Claims and Objections period, it was in the full knowledge that the number of potential registrants who had not been registered for want of source documents was in the vicinity of 2300. This number had been reduced from the 40,000 who were not captured in the house-to-house registration. All the parties, including the PPP, were made aware of this by GECOM. The opposition parties met formally with the GECOM on Friday 3rd June 2011 to voice their concerns about the “significant number” of eligible citizens who were unable to register because they did not receive their birth certificates in time. At that meeting the GECOM conveyed to the parties their disinclination to extend the statutory period for claims and objections, but would await a recommendation from the Secretariat of possible options to accommodate citizens in this position. Our parties were informed that a decision would be made at the next statutory meeting of GECOM scheduled for Tuesday 7th June 2011.
The opposition parties were subsequently informed, on enquiring of the Chairman, that the Commission had decided at their meeting of 7th June (1) that an extension was not warranted; and (2) to facilitate persons who received their birth certificates on the final day, Thursday 9th June 2011, the Commission instructed the Secretariat to work as late as necessary into the night to facilitate those applications.
To say, as the PPP is now saying, that, having agreed to await the proposal from GECOM’s Secretariat on a possible mechanism, “these very parties are now opposing what they had requested GECOM to do,” is to willfully misrepresent the situation. As of Thursday 14th July 2011, GECOM had made no decision to reverse its previous decision of 7th June 2011. The belated request of the PPP which came after the close of the Claims and Objections period and seeks to treat with persons whose applications for source documents were processed after the close of the Claims and Objections period is currently engaging the attention of the Commission. No decision has so far been taken on the most appropriate way forward, although the PPP is bringing an inordinate amount of pressure on the Commission to re-open the registration and create a Supplementary List. We are left to wonder why, after three years of indifference and obstruction, they now, at this eleventh hour, seek to change the rules and run the risk of throwing the entire registration process into possible confusion and corruption.
A.P.N.U declines the invitation from the PPP to descend to the level of slander and gutter abuse with which they seem distressingly at home. A.P.N.U’s concerns are straightforward and hopefully are shared by the PPP. A.P.N.U seeks every assurance that (i) no mechanism will be adopted that puts into jeopardy the integrity of the Final Voters’ List; (ii) no mechanism will be adopted that runs the risk of derailing GECOM’s work-plan and taking the election date beyond the constitutionally stipulated date of December 28, 2011; (iii) no mechanism will be adopted that does not adhere strictly to the procedures and safeguards thus far properly applied by GECOM in the production of the Voters List; (iv) the procedures stipulated by the Minister and administered by the GRO for the issuing of birth certificates would not be compromised since that would risk compromising the integrity of the National Register of Registrants from which the Voters’ List is culled. We urge Guyanese at this time to be vigilant and ensure that the PPP does not succeed in this mysterious and suspicious agenda.