The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been circling around distant timelines among other factors, which have influenced their inability to announce a date for elections. But Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has asserted that Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh will have to rise above these inhibitions and make that very important decision.
This was the position he shared on Friday, as he recognised that the GECOM Chair must be in a very difficult position of having to consider every possibility before making an announcement. He stated that she is fixed in a position where Government Commissioners are pushing to stall the process while the technical advisors are presenting protracted timelines.
He expressed, “I’m trying to picture the job of the Chairperson…It must be very difficult for her to find an accommodation because I’m sure she doesn’t want to dismiss their concerns just like that….At some point in time, she will have to make the tough decision, which is, we are going to respect the Constitution and stop the prevaricating by the Commissioners to delay things. She has to say to the Secretariat: ‘We’re getting this done by this date. You better go and work now to ensure that the timelines fit in.’”
The Opposition Leader also indicated that they retracted from protest actions to allow GECOM and its new leader to execute their functions effectively. However, the elections body is still confined by deceptive data and slothfulness.
“We ended the protest for a while because we wanted to give the Chairperson an opportunity to familiarise herself with what’s going on but what you have in there is a Commission that has to overcome the legacy of the illegalities and the sloth of the past. Even now, being trapped by that activity and the misinformation,” he said.
The decision on an elections date, he noted, can be achieved in a short time if all Commissioners and other staffers work with the intention of upholding the constitutional deadline. The deadline for elections is September 18, three months after the Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling that the David Granger-led Administration toppled with the valid passing of the No-Confidence Motion.
“If they put their minds to it, they can get things done quickly without compromising quality. At some point in time, she has to say that.”
When asked for a date which the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is willing to accept, he responded, “We believe way before the end of the year, it is still possible.”
Since the announcement to merge the data gathered from the incomplete House-to-House Registration exercise, there have been reservations about the accuracy and extended timeline surrounding this activity.
At a recent press conference, the Opposition Leader said that the plans to merge the data with the existing database will push the hosting of early elections to 2020. He argued that there is a much simpler way of ensuring that everyone, including new registrants, gets on the voters’ list.
The Opposition Leader explained that of the 285,000 registrations that were obtained during the H2H exercise, only approximately 2000 are new registrants.
As such, instead of adding the more than 280,000 registrations to the existing National Register of Registrants database which would have massive repetition, Jagdeo said GECOM should filter out those new registrants and have them re-register at their local divisions.
“With this merger, the optimistic scenario is to go to Claims and Objections in November because the merger will make about three months and then elections on the 27th April, next year. So you understand this merger will not improve the database. It’s a delaying tactic once again,” he stated.