PPP accuses Govt of blatant acts of gerrymandering

first_imgLGE 2018…says new NDCs, reduced constituencies a major concernWith the time for Local Government Elections (LGE) fast approaching, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has raised concerns in relation to possible gerrymandering by Government.PPP Executive Gail TeixeiraThe Party said it is concerned over the recent decision to declare Mahdia, Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni) a new town and add a number of new Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) in several areas.PPP Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha told a media conference on Monday that these issues were raised with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).Mustapha said the PPP has also raised the issue of reduced constituencies in some areas, believing it might be a ploy by the coalition Government to have a stronger showing at LGE.Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan announced plans to have the number of constituencies reduced from 16 to 14 in existing Local Government Areas (LAAs).This makes them the subject of re-designation with proposed redemarcation by GECOM, giving the coalition Administration an electoral advantage at the upcoming LGE.“Having closely examined the specific constituencies which have been reduced and which will now have to absorb or merged into other Constituencies in these LAAs,” he said.PPP Executive Secretary, Zulfikar MustaphaMustapha said the PPP is of the firm opinion that the proposed changes, as reflected in the Ministerial Order, would give an electoral advantage to the governing party.Recently, Bulkan announced the creation of one new township and eight new Neighbourhood Democratic Councils – an increase of nine LAAs, bringing the total LAAs to 80.By doing this, the PPP has asserted that the Minister has failed to observe the constitutional provisions enshrined in Article 13 of the Guyana Constitution.This mandate “providing increasing opportunities for the participation of the citizens, and their organisations in the management and decision-making processes of the State.”In addition, Mustapha also stressed that no consultations have been done prior to the changes, nor has the Minister made a move to provide reasons for his reduction of the LAAs. This is even though some two months has elapsed since the change was made.The media was also informed that a meeting was held with the PPP and the Chief Elections Officer of GECOM, Keith Lowenfield, on July 30, 2018, to address some concerns the party has.In their list of approximately 13 observations and concerns, the Opposition noted that GECOM has not informed them as to what the specific re-demarcations in the constituencies are.“This is causing serious delays in commencing and finalising the identification of candidates for the 2018 LGE as the geographic identity of the proposed constituents remains unknown.”In addition, the PPP had informed Lowenfield of the need for security markers to be placed on all requisite forms to be used as part of the process for the upcoming November 12 LGE.The Party said it strongly believes this would help to safeguard the integrity of the process.However, the Opposition expressed astonishment having learned that the GECOM Commissioners, appointed by the People’s National Congress (PNC), vehemently opposed this suggestion.“This has obviously raised concerns causing the PPP to question whether forms without any security mark are being used by the APNU operatives from the 2016 elections,” the Party added.The PPP has also asserted that it remains convinced that these developments point to gerrymandering of the boundaries of the constituencies in 14 LAAs and the attempt to increase the APNU’s balance of votes through the creation of 10 new LAAs.“Unfortunately, after the LGE, many of these new LAAs will be severely challenged to be sustainable due to the small size of the population and limited resources available,” they said.The Party also posited that the “Government is clearly unconcerned about the post-election consequences to these communities and are focused on their overriding objective to ensure they aren’t slaughtered in the 2018 LGE as they were in the 2016 LGE.”Mustapha said it might be an attempt to interfere with the electoral process, but the PPP is ready to do battle.PPP Executive Gail Teixeira said while the party is not contemplating any move to the court at this time over the issue, it is an opportunity for the GECOM to “pull its socks up.”She said the PPP is very prepared for the upcoming elections and she is convinced that the Party will once again have a strong showing at the local polls, point out that in the 2016 elections.She is hoping that the matters being raised by her party will be addressed soon by GECOM.The PPP captured more than 60 per cent of the local democratic organs at the last LGE. It won seven of the 10 Regional Democratic Councils at that very last election.last_img read more