Govt influencing GECOM to delay preparations for elections – Jagdeo

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Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) believes that the APNU+AFC Coalition government is deliberately influencing the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to delay its preparations for the impending General and Regional Elections.

According to the Opposition Leader, despite the two main stakeholders – Govt and the Opposition publicly saying that an agreement was made to meet GECOM on its readiness for the upcoming polls, there has not been any willingness on the part of the elections body.

He specifically mentioned the behaviour of Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, in the absence of GECOM’s Chairman, Justice James Patterson, who is currently out on an extended sick leave and is expected to return next week.

“Mr Lowenfield said, he has indicated that he cannot meet the two stakeholders. Imagine, there is a Government and opposition, they are the stakeholders and Mr Lowenfield, cannot meet with them. He needs to get the approval of the Chairman but he has to wait until a meeting is convened, to get a GECOM statutory meeting to get that approval. He cannot pick up the phone and call the Chairman and say that its part of a request from the joint statement between the President and Opposition leader, they want to meet about GECOM’s readiness, can I meet with them, that would have been the simplest thing to do” Jagdeo revealed.

Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and Roxanne Myers, Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO).

Further, the Opposition Leader stated “So we have a huge ordeal now and we have to at some point in time decide if we want to pursue this charade or juts withdraw from it totally because somehow the Government is using all of these things, our willingness to engage and to be helpful and to reach out, to use it maybe to further delay these elections. We are very concerned about that issue.”

During last week’s high level meeting between President David Granger and the Opposition Leader, the two sides agreed for their respective Chief Whips Amna Ally and Gail Teixeira to meet with the elections body to determine its readiness for the upcoming polls.

However, this meeting is yet to be held and according to Jagdeo, the Opposition is getting impatient.

While the Opposition has been pushing for government to resign and call elections within 90 days in accordance with the Constitution following the successful passage of the No-Confidence Resolution, Chairman of the AFC – the minority party in the Coalition Govt – Khemraj Ramjattan on Wednesday said that there isn’t sufficient time to host elections in 3 months, noting that a house to house registration will have to be done to sanitise the list of electorates.

However, Jagdeo posited that the Opposition had submitted a proposal to cleanse the list within the time frame set by the constitution.

“I said to the president that it is impossible to do house to house registration but I see Ramjattan talking about that at length. He said AFC doesn’t see polls in 90 days, both parties agreed to spend $3B on house to house registration in 2019…But we said that we don’t support house to house registration. No decision has been made at the GECOM commission level for that to happen. The house to house was supposed to start in June, but we argued that the list be published and for the list of the deceased to be cleared out…Its impossible to go back to house to house registration which will take from 6-9 months, that is impossible” said the opposition leader.

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