Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, SC, on Monday held the first installment of public consultations on the draft electoral laws.
The engagement dealt explicitly with the draft amendments to the Representation of the People’s Act (RoPA), which were publicly circulated by the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance for written recommendations and views on the proposed law.
In a statement on Tuesday, the AG said that many stakeholder organisations, as well as individuals, made recommendations and expressed their opinions in writing on the proposed law.
“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 who had made submissions and recommendations pursuant to the invitation extended. At the meeting, those submissions were thoroughly interrogated and discussed."
The missive stated that the Attorney General used the opportunity to explain the nature and purport of the legislative proposals and made it clear that it is outside the scope of this exercise to address issues requiring amendments to the Constitution.
“He advised that those recommendations be deferred and be presented when the constitutional reform process begins. The stakeholder organisations expressed their broad support for the proposed reforms,” the press release concluded.
Over the years, there have been calls for reforms to Guyana’s electoral laws. However, these calls intensified after the five months election impasse, which saw the APNU+AFC attempting to rig the March 2, 2020, elections.
In 2021, the Government published the draft electoral reforms with proposed changes to the RoPA for public consultation before the document is finalised and taken to the National Assembly.
The draft updated electoral laws can see the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) facing as much as life imprisonment for committing fraud, while others can similarly face hefty fines and jail time for any related offence.
It also lays out a straightforward process for requesting a recount, including empowering the Chairman of GECOM to grant that request.
Under the proposed laws, the CEO must immediately post the District Tabulation Forms on the Commission’s website when he receives them from the Returning Officers.
Other persons involved in the electoral process can face fines as high as $10 million and can equally be jailed if they breach any provision outlined in the proposed updated Act.