first_img– calls for ability to reassign boundaries to be transferredFollowing the recent restructuring of 14 Local Government Areas by the Communities Minister, a People’s Progressive Party Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is recommending that the power to do so henceforth reside with the commission.According to PPP Commissioner Robeson Benn in a statement on Tuesday, Minister Ronald Bulkan’s actions raise key questions, which include whether the Commission can afford to stand aside and do nothing. According to Benn, the Commission cannot, and he therefore proposes that the issue of re-districting andGECOM Commissioner Robeson BennGECOM’s role be put on the agenda.“There was a perception that with impending/upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE) 2018, efforts were underway to redraw the electoral map in favour of the ruling or incumbent party, resulting in a distortion of the political intent of the voters of an LAA and a reduction in fair representation of electors,” Benn wrote.“Since gerrymandering is done with the intent of maximising supporters’ votes while minimising those votes of an opponent, it is partisan, and therefore undemocratic and abhorrent.  Moreover, and worst yet, the decisions and actions arising out of the installation of a gerrymandered Council are mostly likely to be unrepresentative and despotic, posing risks to the governance of the area and the body politic concerned.”Benn recommended that GECOM be assigned the role of determining elections’ boundaries. He also advocated a name change for the entity… to the Guyana Elections and Boundary Commission (GEBC)“GECOM, as a Constitutional Commission, cannot afford to continue to (be subject to) allegations of lack of transparency, or as ‘the poodle’ of the incumbent in power – whichever party that incumbent may personify.”“GECOM, also, should not continue to be exposed to litigation risks, directly or joined, in relation to simple, avoidable, and transparent practices which enhance its role as the electoral body. It is already embroiled in controversies related to the 2015 National Elections and the Ganga Persaud Petition to those elections,” Benn reminded.In June of this year, an order to remove constituencies from 14 areas was gazetted at the behest of Bulkan. Since Local Government Elections are fast approaching, the Opposition has since accused the Government of gerrymandering. It is something Bulkan has denied.“We are very concerned with attempts to tamper with the (Neighbourhood Democratic Council’s) NDC’s Local Government bodies to gerrymander boundaries to suit (A Partnership for National Unity) APNU,” Opposition LeaderCommunities Minister Ronald BulkanBharrat Jagdeo had said at a previous press conference.“They want to gerrymander the boundaries by splitting an NDC like that, creating two new NDCs so they can win in these areas. That is what is happening now because they fear another crushing defeat,” he had added.The creation of the new towns and NDCs was said to be part of the Administration’s policy and vision of fostering national development via regional and local empowerment, given Central Government’s stated commitment to a philosophy of decentralised governance; but the PPP thinks otherwise.The APNU/AFC suffered a crushing defeat in 2015 at LGE when the PPP received 30,000 more votes than both parties. The PPP also won 48 of the 65 NDCs and tied in seven others. In summary, the party won or tied with 55 of the 65 areas that were contested. They also won three towns, except for the newly created ones.last_img read more