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… AFC votes against amendmentIn the midst of a storm of controversy, parliament has passed an amendment to the National Registration Act.On Monday, last, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) took a decision to reopen the Claims and Objection period for 13 more days effective Monday next. The decision was handed down after a special meeting of the Commissioners, but even they were divided on the issue with the final vote being 3-2 in favour of reopening.The dissension around the reopening continued yesterday in the National Assembly, as the house suspended the standing orders to call for the second reading and the remaining stages before passing the amendment all in one session.Khemraj RamjattanThe Alliance for Change (AFC) MPs openly opposed the Bill, calling for a division in order to have the record reflect their opposition, while the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) chose to support the Government’s position. The final vote on the passing of the Amendment was 5 members against, with 44 in support of the motion.After the decision of the commission was handed down on Monday, the Attorney General’s office drafted the amendment legislation on Tuesday and the proposed amendment was sent to members of the House on Wednesday. Yesterday in the National Assembly the Amendment was passed. As such, Monday next, July 25, will see the GECOM claims and objections period reopening for 13 days, giving persons who have not had a chance to register in the previous exercises the opportunity to do so.Even before the decision was taken by the Commission, the reopening has been a contentious issue. The PNCR, the Alliance for Change and the Working People’s Alliance expressed their concerns to the chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally, in a letter saying that “The need to re-open another round of the Claims and Objections is pregnant with the possibility of irreparable danger to the integrity of the final voters’ list.”Yesterday in Parliament, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee, who tabled the amendment, stated that the changes made to the bill arose out of the necessity for GECOM to include the names of those persons who,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, up until now, have been unable to get registered. He highlighted that there were several thousand people who are currently unregistered, and that it was of interest to all the major political parties to “have as many persons as possible registered to vote.”Rohee pointed out that this amendment specifically caters for people who were unable to register due to a lack of source documents through no fault of their own.Considering that his Ministry has oversight of the General Registrar’s Office (GRO), which is responsible for issuing the requisite source documents, Rohee also argued that “… persons are seeking to cast blame in some direction; to claim that some institution of the state was not fully geared and prepared to ensure that persons did not have their source documents.”He said that the heart of the matter is that there are six to seven thousand persons out there who do not have source documents that need to get source documents in their hands. Rohee later admitted that GECOM did approach the Ministry of Home Affairs to argue the case for a special arrangement to be put in place to facilitate the process. He argued,wholesale jerseys, however, that GECOM is an independent body, and that there is no way a Government agency could become a department of GECOM,Cheap NHL Jerseys, yet that was exactly what the commission was asking.The only voice of open dissension to the amendment was the AFC. Khemraj Ramjattan, its Presidential Candidate, spoke of the Government’s “new found love for enfranchising those who absolutely did not either take care after a three-year period of getting registered or probably for some other reason or consideration simply did not want to get registered.”He raised the issue of why it could not have been done earlier, and asked why it was not called for in March and February, but was suddenly of such import at the eleventh hour. He pointed out that 13 days does not necessarily mean that it will be the length of the elections. The exercise, he pointed out,Wholesale Jerseys NFL, would call for a host of other activities which meant that the constitutional deadline of December 28,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, 2011, was not going to be met. An idea, he noted,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping, that even the GECOM commissioners were worried about. He said that the Bill was “fraught with danger to the extent that it cannot be supported at all by the Alliance for Change.”Leader of the PNCR, Robert Corbin, argued that it was a certainty that the amendment would have been passed and he did not seek to comment on the procedure or the fact that the Bill is needed. His only bone of contention was that there was no consultation with the opposition by the Government.Robert CorbinCorbin moved to have the amendment changed to reflect that the clause would stand “for the specific preparation of the 2011 Official List of Electors for the 2011 General and Regional Elections” and to include a sub-clause that calls for the Commission to provide names of electors registered subsequent to the enactment of the amendment to political parties.
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