House-to-House Registration: GECOM awaits consequential orders to determine way forward

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Preparations by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to conduct house-to-house registration remain halted as the elections body is awaiting the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ’s) consequential orders which will give an indication on the way forward.

This is according to GECOM’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Yolanda Ward, who in a telephone interview with Guyana Times on Sunday, explained that the Commission is slated to have its statutory meeting this week where the CCJ ruling will take precedence.

This meeting will come on the heels of both the Government and the Opposition submitting to the CCJ, their conditions and proposals as to how and when Guyana should forge ahead so as to have free and fair elections held as soon as possible.

Earlier this month, the house-to-house registration exercise came to a halt and Ward had explained that this delay did not necessarily mean that GECOM would have put aside the house-to-house registration process.

“I think what had initially happened was that the anticipated timeline to commence the field exercise was scheduled for June 1 [2019]. That was what we were looking at tentatively. So, that did not happen but house-to-house registration is still on, just that it will start at a later time than anticipated,” she had said.

At that time, according to Ward, this process was expected to last for an average of three months. “The exercise will commence sometime later this month. I do not have a definitive date as yet. The Commission is deliberating on a day to start the process.”

Prior to the CCJ’s ruling on June 18 last, the elections body was standing firm by its belief that the exercise is mandatory before the next General and Regional Elections are held.

In May, after the statutory meeting, Government-nominated Commissioner Charles Corbin had disclosed that there were some procurement issues at the election secretariat which by extension would delay the process.

Nevertheless, Ward had previously told Guyana Times that the training of staff required for the exercise has been completed and they are now in the process of tidying up placements.

GECOM had planned to forge ahead with house-to-house registration, even when the country had been awaiting a ruling from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the December 2018 passage of the Opposition’s No-Confidence Motion.

On the other hand, GECOM’s legal officer, Excellence Dazzell had contended that house-to-house registration is not necessary and advised that another less time-consuming process be utilised in accordance with the law to update the list.

She recommended that the electoral commission advise Chief Elections Office, Keith Lowenfield to set the machinery in place to extend the life of the voters’ list and as such did not see the need for a new voters’ list. But the lawyer’s advice was set aside by GECOM.

On June 18, 2019, the CCJ threw out Government’s arguments and ruled that the No-Confidence Motion that toppled it on December 21, 2018, was indeed validly passed.