Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), retired Justice Claudette Singh has ruled that the Minister of Local Government Nigel Dharamlall acted outside of his jurisdiction when he combined and subdivided areas to form constituencies for the Local Government Elections.
“Having reviewed extracts from Order No. 50 of 2022, the Chairperson explained that it is evident that the Minister would have combined and/or subdivided areas to form constituencies and that is outside of his statutory powers. It is a jurisdiction given solely to the Elections Commission,” GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Ward told News Source.
In November, the Local Government Minister extended a number of Constituency boundaries while reverting others to the 2016 local district boundaries for the 2023 Local Government Elections.
In announcing his decision, he contended that many of the boundaries were adjusted for the 2018 Local polls by the former government and it resulted in supporters of his party being disenfranchised. He did not provide any information or details to back up that claim.
At a short meeting of the Elections Commission on Wednesday, the Chairman said that in setting the boundaries for the Constituencies, the Minister absorbed the responsibilities of GECOM.
“GECOM will now have to further deliberate on this matter to determine whether it would consider the constituencies purported to be constituted by the Minister or undertake its own process to form the requisite number of constituencies in those Local Authority Areas that have been changed,” the Public Relations Officer for GECOM said.
Elections Commissioner Vincent Alexander told News Source that the GECOM Chairman arrived at her decision after the Commission considered a report which was submitted by the Logistics Division of the Commission.
“In the meeting, based on a report emanating from the Logistics Division, the Chair ruled that Order 50 of 2022 clearly cannot stand since the Minister has no authority to constitute constituencies,” Alexander explained.
In a statement last week, the Elections Commission said the powers given to the Minister and the Commission are different and not in conflict.
It was explained that the Local Government Minister has the power to divide Guyana into areas as provided for by Article 72(2) of the Constitution, but it is the Commission that has the powers to combine or subdivide those divisions within neighbourhoods, and municipalities to form Constituencies.
The Elections Commission is expected to meet again next Tuesday to decide on the way forward.