The People’s National Congress Reform today raised concerns over what it sees as a plan by the governing People’s Progressive Party to pad the voter’s list.
Last year, the government used its majority in the National Assembly and amended the Registration of Births and Deaths Act.
One of the amendments to the Act outlines the process by which a person can obtain a birth certificate in Guyana.
The Act does not stipulate that a person must be a Guyanese citizen by birth in order to obtain a birth certificate. It allows a person to obtain a birth certificate once they have a prescribed form signed by someone of high standing in the community including a community leader or Toshao, among other similar provisions.
Executive Member of the People’s National Congress and Opposition MP Amanza Walton-Desir, today said that the provisions of the amended Act are harmful and are a recipe for political mischief.
“We cautioned then that this was a plan to covertly affect tens of thousands of birth registrations, particularly in those far-flung hinterland regions, using an established network of PPP/C aligned Justices of the Peace, Toshaos, and Notaries Public,” Walton Desire said.
She added that “this danger is compounded by the fact that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is engaged in office-based registration and not house-to-house registration, which means that any person in possession of a Guyana Birth Certificate, aged 14 years and above can present themselves at the relevant GECOM office and must be entered on the National Register of Registrants”.
According to the Opposition Member of Parliament, the intent of the legislation is compounded by several factors, one of which is the Attorney General’s relentless criticism over the alleged corrupt dealings of Justices of the Peace and Notaries Public.
“It is the highest level of hypocrisy, therefore, for the Government to have entrusted these same officials, some of whom they deemed corrupt when it suited their purposes, with the power to essentially confer the status of a citizen of Guyana upon an individual,” Desir said.
The MP explained that the law not only set the stage for electoral malpractice but can compromise the country’s National Security since any person can present themselves to be registered.
Last year, the Attorney General defended the amendments to the Act, saying that it now allows adults who may have never been. inpossession. ofa birth certificate to obtain one now.