GECOM pussyfoots on March elections

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Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield

…CEO blames Chairman and Commission even though responsible

Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission, Keith Lowenfield, has said that the Secretariat is yet to receive instructions from the Commission to commence preparations for the upcoming General and Regional Elections.

During an engagement with the media earlier today (Friday), Lowenfield said that the electoral machinery would need at least 148 days before it is fully ready to host the constitutionally mandated elections triggered by the no-confidence motion against the APNU/AFC Government on December 21.

Lowenfield said he is flatfooted since GECOM’s Commissioners are still in deliberation.

“The Secretariat went to Commissioners and asked if to move me into a mode, but they just don’t say anything to the secretariat, I am flatfooted now. When those issues are before the board, the Chairman guides but there is usually a deliberation… they say move but then the discussions go on and on…I know that they are commissioners who are ready to move, as a matter of fact, but their needs to be unison at the part of the Commission, and I can’t really speak for them at all” Lowingfield said.

“Today is the 8th of January. You haven’t said anything to me yet. If you communicate to me, I move,” Lowenfield said.

When questioned about extracting the list of eligible voters from the National Register of Registrants, Lowenfield explained that doing so would cause many young voters to be unable vote.

Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers said if elections were to be held in March, then nomination day would have had to be by the end of January.

The Deputy CEO explained that it would take 148 days to prepare for elections. However if certain tasks are done concurrently – procurement of materials such as ballots, stamps and ink, along with other activities such as training of polling day staff – it would take roughly 105 days to prepare for the polls.

The CEO pointed out that the 148-day timeline is the earliest the Secretariat can run-off elections; this excludes the possibility of holding house to house registration, which Myers said could take at least nine months.

The parliamentary Opposition and other observers have accused the Government and GECOM of deliberately attempting to delay the holding of the constitutionally mandated elections.

The no-confidence vote was validated by the ruling by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, who declared that the motion was validly passed 33-32.

The complaint has been that GECOM was not forthcoming about its preparedness for the elections despite being mandated by the Constitution of Guyana to hold elections within three months of the passage of a no-confidence motion.

It was only a few days ago that United Nations Resident Coordinator Mikiko Tanaka urged Government to respect the Constitution.

Guyana’s Private Sector Commission had also previously called for GECOM to open up about its readiness for elections.

GECOM successfully ran the Local Government Elections in November 2018, less than three months ago.

The President of Guyana, according to the Constitution, has the power to dissolve Parliament and issue a date for elections.

 

 

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