GECOM stonewalls on elections readiness


…as illegal GECOM Chair squats on job

As President David Granger is still waiting on Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), whose Chairman was unconstitutionally appointed, despite the Caribbean Court of Justice ruling on Monday, to determine when elections will be held, the elections body is mum on the matter.

Guyana Elections Commission’s Main Street, Georgetown headquarters

When contacted to ascertain whether GECOM has taken any further action since the CCJ ruling with respect to election preparations, Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward declined to comment, save to say updates will be available only after GECOM has its next regular statutory meeting.

It has been almost seven months since the No-Confidence Motion brought by the parliamentary opposition against the coalition Government was passed in the National Assembly, toppling them from power.

Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Head Office located at Kingston, Georgetown

Article 106 (6) of the Constitution of Guyana states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence”.

Meanwhile, Article 106 (7) states that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by no less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election”.

None of this was followed, as the Government then embarked on a series of legal challenges that ultimately ended at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Tuesday when it confirmed that the no-confidence vote was valid.

In all that time, however, GECOM failed to carry out any viable preparatory work. This is despite the fact that the Constitution sets out a three-month timeframe for it to carry out elections and also that part of GECOM’s mandate is to always be in a state of readiness for elections whether a no-confidence vote has been brought or not.

The law also stipulates that the voters’ list has to be updated by Continuous Registration and/or Claims and Objections, an exercise person have opined GECOM was expected to have embarked upon since last year or, at latest, in January 2019 after the Commission reconvened.

Meanwhile, President David Granger, whose Administration was toppled, on Wednesday reiterated his call for house-to-house registration, an exercise that will further delay elections that should have been held since March 21, 2019. His comments were viewed as a direct disregard for the ruling of the CCJ, which is the highest regional court.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had thrown the Government an olive branch on Tuesday at a press conference, where he said that while principle meant elections must be held now, in the interests of practicality, the opposition would support elections in two to three months.

The voters’ list, which expired only on April 30, was the one used to carry out Local Government Elections (LGE) in November of last year, an elections hailed by all as smooth and credible.

In addition, GECOM’s own Legal Officer, Excellence Dazzell, had advised the Commission last month that subject to Section 7 (1) of the Elections Amendment Act (2000), there was no need for a new list but rather, the old existing list could and should be updated.