Discussions about merging data causing unnecessary delay in poll preparations – Commissioner Gunraj

Commissioner Sase Gunraj
Commissioner Sase Gunraj

After yet another marathon meeting at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday, it turns out that the entity has made little progress in narrowing down a timeframe to hold national elections.

However, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) nominated Commissioners will be taking matters into their own hands at the next meeting scheduled for today (Wednesday). Commissioner Sase Gunraj revealed that they will present a proposed plan of their own for early elections.

“As we are speaking today, we have not come to any realistic timeline for the holding of elections… the discussion on [merging the data] is what is taking this time. We could have gone to Claims and Objections starting [today], because we have asked members of the Secretariat to get information on that.”

“If we made a decision today, we could go to Claims and Objections and start moving this process forward. Unfortunately, all of this discussion and delay is because of discussions about merging… I have undertaken to present a timeframe of my own. So I’m optimistic that that will be adopted.”

Gunraj also expressed a lack of confidence in the timelines that are being prepared and presented by the GECOM Secretariat to the Commission. He said that less than half of the registrants’ data have been encoded, despite the exercise starting last month.

The Commissioner also noted that these delays contradict GECOM’s earlier deadline for completing the encoding of data, which he said was supposed to be since September 15. Gunraj made it clear that he is dissatisfied with the pace in which GECOM is working.

“As we speak today, I believe that only [approximately] 200,000 records were encoded. The timeline presented to us by the commission was September 15 for conclusion. As you know, we are at September 17. And the Secretariat is saying we will require three weeks.”

When asked, Government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander noted that there are three shifts of encoders working to input the House-to-House data. However, he was optimistic that GECOM would even be able to come up with an election timeframe it could present to President David Granger today.

This is the latest of several weeks of meetings, whereby GECOM has been unable to narrow down a definite timeframe for holding elections. President David Granger has repeatedly said he is awaiting the advice of GECOM before naming an election date.