CCJ expected to rule on elections in Guyana by July 12

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The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has ordered that all parties involved submit written submissions on what they believe should be the consequential orders, i.e., what should happen now that it has been confirmed that the coalition government was defeated by a no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

With government pushing for house-to-house registration before elections and the Opposition demanding the country head to the polls within three months, CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders urged that President David Granger and Opposition Leader meet with the aim of arriving at a consensus.

The parties were ordered to make the submissions by July 1, 2019 and the CCJ expects to hand down a decision by July 12, 2019.

The CCJ President explained that the regional court does not want to make political decisions, but rather, he pointed out that “it is in our remit to assist in seeing the rule of law observed in Guyana”.

He said the country’s political actors must conform with the rule of law and demonstrate a spirit of compromise and reasonableness to ensure the rule of law is upheld.

Justice Saunders accepted that on one end, as many persons qualified to vote should be registered to vote.

But on the other hand, the constitution mandates that when a government is defeated by a motion of no-confidence, elections must be held within three months.

Justice Saunders said there must be compromise between these two constitutional values.

Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who is representing Jagdeo, had proposed that GECOM use the list of electors available now, which expired on April 30.

He reasoned that elections ought to have been held by March 21, 2019 and a valid list of electors was available at that time.

The Opposition, through Mendes, had asked the CCJ to order elections be held within three months from today.

With the CCJ confirming that the current GECOM Chairman should be removed, it was also proposed that the process of appointing a new GECOM Chairman be done in no more than seven days.

On the other hand, GECOM’s Attorney, Stanley Marcus says the Commission will only be ready by December 25, 2019. Justice Saunders said that position is “disappointing”.

The CCJ President contended that the Commission ought to always be on standby for elections. He said “it is strange” that the Commission is saying it will not be ready to have elections within 90 days, a situation which the CCJ President says will “leave the country in limbo”.

GECOM’s Attorney continued arguing that the entity will not be ready for elections within the three months as stipulated in the Guyana Constitution. But President Saunders retorted: “What you want us to do? Ignore it(the Constitution)? Reject it? Rewrite it?”

The Opposition Leader and President Granger are expected to meet later today.