The public consultations on the draft amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act (ROPA) have started.
The Government is seeking to overhaul the elections machinery in Guyana following the 2020 General and Regional Elections.
So far, the Opposition APNU+AFC has not yet made any recommendations to the process and the coalition is firm that the root cause of elections malpractice in Guyana is a bloated voter’s list and that must be first addressed.
But the government is moving ahead with the proposed draft amendments.
In a statement, the Chambers of the Attorney General said “many stakeholder organizations, as well as individuals, made recommendations and expressed their opinions in writing on the same. They were all invited to yesterday’s engagement. Representatives of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Electoral Reform Group attended. These were among the organizations that had made submissions and recommendations pursuant to the invitation extended. At the meeting, those submissions were thoroughly interrogated and discussed”.
During yesterday’s consultations with the Private Sector Commission and the Electoral Reform Group, the Attorney General used the opportunity to explain the nature and purpose of the legislative proposals and also made it clear that it is outside the scope of this exercise to address issues that will require amendments to the Constitution.
He advised that those recommendations be deferred and be presented when the constitutional reform process begins.
Last November, the proposals were made public for the first time.
In the first draft, the Government is recommending that the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) can face as much as life imprisonment for committing fraud, while others can similarly face hefty fines and jail time for any related electoral fraud offence.
It also outlines the process for the request of a recount, including empowering the Chairman of GECOM to grant that request.
The Government has already come under some criticism for some of the recommendations.