Based on the coalition Government’s posture as it relates to their handling of the carried no confidence vote, and recent calls from Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) commissioners aligned to government for the need to have a new voters list, one can surmise that the incumbent is doing everything within its power to delay the holding on Elections which is constitutionally due in March of this year.
This was the view proffered by, economist and political commentator Ramon Gaskin.
Gaskin told this media group, in an interview on Wednesday, that there was no question whether there should be an election, but the issue has to do with the timeframe for such an election.
However, he said there has been recent talk from Government which is pushing to update the voters’ list.
“The elections must be held! You don’t need a new list. We just had elections (Local Government). There is no trouble with that list… So we should go to the polls. I am ready to go and vote… Any attempt to worry with that list would be a delay tactic on the part of Government,” he stated.
Gaskin, a former advisor to late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan, said that this ‘delay tactic’ being employed now by the Government was nothing new to the People’s National Congress (PNC). He recalled that elections were delayed by two years before, when the PNC was in power.
“Desmond Hoyte (late former President) did this in 1990 and delayed elections for two years until 1992. We were supposed to have elections in 1990. He was in office from 1985 until 1992 when United States President Jimmy Carter intervened and encouraged PNC to go to the polls,” he recalled.
The political commentator said “this is PNC behaviour” and unless the Opposition remained focused, this could reoccur.
But Gaskin strongly believes that if this is allowed to happen, it could have several negative impacts on the country. “Simple, Guyana cannot afford a repeat of that.”
Gaskin was the first to voice concern over the current political situation in the country, accusing the Government of trying to delay the holding of elections in Guyana within the stipulated 90-day period.
He said that it was making strategic moves all aimed at delaying the democratic process.
The first move, he noted, was to challenge the no-confidence resolution that was passed in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018. “Everything that the Government is doing, including going to court, is a delay tactic … it is aimed at delaying the holding of elections. And this meeting between the Chief Whips and the GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) is just another set of delay,” he asserted.
People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) representative at GECOM, Bibi Shadick on Tuesday made it clear that house-to-house registration could not be accommodated within 90 days.
“It is agreed that there is a valid list up to April 30. The thing is, we’re working with the fact that there is a valid list.”
Government wants the court to rule on whether the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland’s decision on the December 21, 2018 motion was indeed carried by a majority of all elected members and whether or not the 33 to 32 breakdown meant it was validly passed.
Meanwhile, a private citizen named Campton Reid filed a petition in the court challenging the validity of the vote of former Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud, who helped pass the motion, stating that he had falsely declared that he was a Guyanese citizen.
The political commentator also pointed to recent comments made by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo when he stated that elections should be held before April, especially since the list of electors would expire during that month and would, therefore, prompt new registration.
Acting Chief Justice Roxane George is expected to make a ruling on all matters concerning the no-confidence resolution next Wednesday, which will determine the way forward.
In recognising the importance of these cases, she had committed to delivering judgment within a reasonable time.
As stipulated by the Constitution of Guyana, following the no-confidence resolution, an election must be called in 90 days.
For Guyana, that resolution was passed on December 21, 2018.