Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017

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Elections Commission Shenanigans:
(Aired 2 June 2006)

 

      I had in fact started this commentary nearly a week ago and at that time I was of the of opinion that the position given by the PNC's chief scrutineer Joe Hamilton, which was published in the newspaper on Monday or Tuesday this week and the letter from GECOM Commissioner Haslyn Parris dated 27th May 2006, which I have in my possession, and which was presented to the Chairman of GECOM outlining Parris' reasons for distancing himself from the commission, the letter accuses the elections commission chairman Steve Surujbally of every conceivable deception, chicanery and shenanigans and alleged that article 159 (a) of the constitution had been modified by Desmond Hoyte in December of 1991 and in fact placed a residency requirement in the constitution, making verification of residency necessary and essential for the 2006 list, after further research and consultation I am led to the conclusion that the residency requirement does not reside in article 159 directly. What I am going to tell you tonight is based on a legal opinion which was commissioned and paid for by the Private Sector Commission.

   The question for months has been, is a voter in Guyana who is a Guyanese and is over 18 years of age eligible to vote notwithstanding that he does not live in Guyana. At this time the actual words written in the constitution regarding eligibility to be voters or electors are as follows  

   Article 159 states that (1) No person shall vote at an election unless he is registered as an elector and (2) Subject to the provisions of paragraphs (3) and (4), a person shall be qualified to be registered as an elector for elections if, and shall not be so qualified unless, on the qualifying date, he is of the age of eighteen years or upwards and either –– (a) Is a citizen of Guyana; or (b) Is a Commonwealth citizen who is not a citizen of Guyana and who is domiciled and resident in Guyana and has been so resident for a period of one year immediately preceding the qualifying date and (c) Satisfies such other qualifications as may be prescribed by or under any law.

  Paragraphs 3 and 4 referred to in the constitution, deals with people of unsound mind and people who have been convicted of electoral fraud not being eligible to vote.

   So article 159 is very clear as it is written in the constitution that to vote in Guyana you have to be a Guyanese citizen over 18 years old and registered to vote or (b) that you must be a commonwealth citizen who is domiciled and resident in Guyana and has been residing here for a period of one year immediately preceding the qualifying date and (c) that they satisfy such other qualifications as may be prescribed by or under any law.

   Ladies and gentlemen my dictionary tells me that hypocrite means one who feigns to be better than one is, pretends to be vitreous, or concealment of one's true character or belief, that is to pretend to be a mouse when I fact you are a rat.

   From the time the 1980 constitution was put into effect allowing overseas voting the hypocrites in the PPP went crying to every country on the planet complaining, with justification, that Burnham had put overseas voting in our constitution to facilitate electorial fraud i.e. that Burnham's constitution did not have a provision in it which required that a person's eligibility to vote be contingent on their being resident in Guyana, and that by allowing people outside of Guyana to vote he was facilitating rigged elections.

   These same hypocrites finally got Jimmy Carter in 1991 to coerce Desmond Hoyte to temporarily change the law which he did on the 27th December 1991, disallowing overseas voting by making residency a conditionality of the right to vote in the 1992 election.

    Now that they are in power, in order to allow people who have migrated to vote in this 2006 elections, unofficially through fraud, the PPP did everything in their power to frustrate the process of verifying who was living here and who was not, despite the fact that in so doing they were putting their own supporters in harms way since there was bound to be trouble if the elections had any component that was not completely transparent and above board, in other words Surujbally's declaration of the winner would be meaningless unless Robert Corbin also said that it was fair and acceptable.

    In the interest of peace and progress alone, if the PPP had any regard for the safety of their supporters they should have facilitated the opposition's insistence on verification of the 2001 voters list, Jimmy Carter told them that it was essential to sanitise this list after the 2001 election. But let's see what the law says.

    Article 159 (c) of the constitution makes provision for other laws that may from time to time be put in place in Guyana to be binding on the constitution, since the constitution itself at 159 C says that qualifications [to vote] must satisfy any law or laws that may be subsequently put in place.

   One such law is the Representation of the People's Act which in section 2 subsection 3 says this the official list of electors for any district shall be the preliminary list of electors resident in that division, prepared before the election day in pursuance of section 14 of the national registration act or last prepared in pursuance thereof before such day as the case may be, but with every modification as may be necessary to bring that list into conformity with the divisional register. Ladies and gentlemen this law not only requires that you be resident in Guyana but it says that you have to be resident in a certain district to vote there.

  In addition articles in the National Registration Act also makes residency a requirement for voting, I am not going to argue this case here tonight, since I am not a lawyer and this is not a court, but I will quote some passages from this legal opinion paper that the Private Sector Commission have in their possession and which I intend to see them publicise and implement.

   The opinion tells us that to comply with the national registration act the following has to be done by GECOM

1.GECOM must direct the commissioner to prepare a preliminary list.

2. Commissioner must prepare the preliminary list in which he must enter the particulars of persons qualified for registration.

3. Commissioner is to certify copies of preliminary lists in so far as it comprises entries to persons resident in each registration division. And

4. Commissioner to send certified copies of preliminary list to district registrars.

  This being the case it is clear that the commissioner is not entitled merely to add the new registrants to certify the 2001 official list of electors. Before he sends the preliminary list out, he has to certify that the entries relate to persons resident in each registration division.

   Therefore once we accept that residency in general and residency in a particular registration division is a pre-condition to being on the preliminary list by the provisions of the National Registration Act and the Representation of the People's Act, then it must be considered as one of the qualifications prescribed at 159 C under any other law and so in the context of the constitution the requirement of residency is therefore elevated from the status of ordinary law to a constitutional requirement.

   There will now inevitably be a second court case, these court cases, can as I predicted go as far as the Caribbean Court, and if the court rules in favour of residency, then any election held in this country without recognising the necessity to verify residency as a condition of voting, will be voided. 

   Ladies and gentlemen I would find it impossible to sleep at night if someone was saying that I was a thief or was being bribed or incompetent at what I do, its called pride, pride in what you do and pride in being who you are and what you stand for, how do some of the people in this country who are selling their souls for a few dollars sleep at night?