GECOM’s legal opinion being pushed aside

PPP Commissioner, Sase Gunraj

Discussions on the legal opinion offered by the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM’s) legal officer of the need to update the voters’ list are being pushed aside even as the possible need for early elections loom larger by the day.

At the conclusion of GECOM’s statutory meeting on Tuesday, Government-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander informed the media that the legal opinion is, in fact, “water under the bridge”.

“For all intents and purposes, we are not discussing the substance of that opinion at this time…the substance of the opinion, as described in the meeting, is, in a sense, water under the bridge,” Alexander said, citing the current no-confidence cases before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

But according to Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj, there has been a marked reluctance from the Government-nominated Commissioners – Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – to even contemplate updating the old list, as advised by the legal officer.

“There has been a refusal by the full Commission, particularly a majority of the Commission, to take any steps to refresh that list outside of house-to-house registration,” Gunraj posited.

Gunraj further pointed out that GECOM’s Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, acknowledged seeing the legal opinion of GECOM’s legal officer, Excellence Dazzell, before April 30, when the voters’ list expired.

Last week Tuesday, Dazzell’s legal opinion was tabled at a statutory meeting of GECOM and she has since come under fire from the government commissioners for doing so.

The opinion runs contrary to their argument, which is, that house-to-house registration is needed to create a new voters’ list.

The opinion opined that “based on [election laws], the list must be updated bi-annually by adding persons who are now qualified to be registered, to that list and those who are no longer qualified to be registered, to be taken off that list”.