Kurt Campbell reports…
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is holding firm to its commitment to work along with external agencies to encourage youth participation at the upcoming elections.
The elections body was highly criticized by the governing People’ s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C ) and its youth arm after it announced it was partnering with the Guyana National Youth Council (GNYC) to implement a programme aimed at bringing out more youths to the May 11 polls .
On Wednesday, GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally said it was not just the Commission that believes that youth participation in the electoral process was important, but all major political parties shared the same view. To this end he explained that he could not understand why the objection was being made.
Dr. Surujbally observed that it was a global phenomenon that youth participation in electoral activities and voting was limited, even in countries where voting was compulsory and there were heavy fines for not doing so.
The GECOM Chairman told a room filled with representatives of almost a dozen political parties on Wednesday that such laws have been challenged in those countries and urged that Guyana must do everything to ensure such a confrontation does not occur here.
Notwithstanding the voluntary nature of voting in Guyana, the Chairman maintained that everything must be done to get youths involved in the process.
He clarified that the Commission did not approach individual organizations to help in this regard but was approached by the GNYC.
Dr. Surujbally clarified too that GECOM’s involvement was limited to the provision of information for dissemination. He said no financial support would be given or would at no point endorse external organization.
The PPP/C’s objection later saw Central Committee Member Kwame McCoy disrupting a planned meeting last week which was geared toward getting the “vote like a boss” campaign off the ground.
And the PPP’s General Secretary, Clement Rohee said that the youth grouping was a creature of “external interference” through the USAID Leadership and Democracy (LEAD) Project. He said the youth group is made up of partisan individuals “attempting to hijack the council.”
However, when the group was launched in 2014, it was given the full support of the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture.
The APNU-AFC coalition has said it supports any group that will ensure youths head to the polls and exercise their franchise on May 11.
Filed: 11th March, 2015