Rupert Roopnaraine

Working People's Alliance
Focus Area(s)
Varanya Chaubey
Country of Reform
Date of Interview
Friday, May 15, 2009
Rupert Roopnaraine discusses his role in the Constitutional Reform Commission in Guyana. He details the challenge of recommending reforms to better balance power in a government that was constitutionally highly centralized on the Office of the President and the difficulty of dealing with a government reflexively resistant to electoral reform. He touches on the question of proportional representation, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the system, why he believes removing the proportional representation system is a necessary first step in reforming the quality of parliamentary conduct and productivity, and why he believes a first-past-the-post system is better for local government. Roopnaraine discusses the commission’s strategies to address high ethnic tensions exacerbated by racialization of political parties and outlines the commission’s success in putting together an Elections Commission that was acceptable to both incumbent and opposition parties. He lays out the events around Guyana’s failed 1997 elections that led to the formation of the Constitutional Reform Commission and political difficulties in Guyana at the time of the interview. He also discusses progress made on the rights of indigenous people, the reasons why many reforms were never fully implemented, and the challenges of putting together new voter registration lists.

Full Interview

80 MB
Rupert Roopnaraine Interview

Rupert Roopnaraine was a co-leader of the Working People's Alliance in Guyana, a group he joined in 1979. He served as a member of Parliament from 1995 to 2000 and on the Constitutional Reform Commission in 1998.  He also was a member of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, special select committees on the Integrity Bill and on the Trade Union Bill, and the Public Accounts Committee. He also was a member of the Commonwealth Observer Missions for elections in Uganda, Zimbabwe and Zanzibar. At the time of this interview, he was program director of the Guyana Citizens’ Initiative.  He received his doctorate in comparative literature from Cornell University, and he taught at the University of Guyana, Cornell, and Columbia University in various capacities.

Voter Registration
voter fraud
polling supplies
Election Violence
election security
election schedules
Election Management Body
dispute resolution
Not specified