Following is the full text of a response from PPP/C Member of Parliament and former Attorney General Mr Mohabir Anil Nandlall, issued this afternoon to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM
I am pleased to note that GECOM’s interpretation of Section 13 (6) of the Municipality and District Councils Act, Cap. 28:01 and Section 28 (6) of the Local Government Act. Cap 28:02, accords with ours (PPP/C).
I am also pleased to observe that GECOM’s understanding of how the law is to be applied is also consistent with ours: that is, that once there is an inability to elect a Mayor by virtue of an equality of seats in a Municipality, then the Town Clerk must next appoint a date for the election of the Mayor from the tied candidates by registered voters in that particular Municipality.
Similarly, in an NDC, once there is an inability to elect a Chairperson by virtue of an equality of seats in an NDC, then the Overseer must next appoint a date for the election of the Chairperson from the tied candidates by registered voters in that particular local authority area.
I am also happy that GECOM’s recognises that the law does not permit or authorise, in any manner whatsoever, the Minister with responsibility for Local Government to play any role in this process, more specifically, to select one of the tied candidates as Mayor of the Municipality, or Chairperson of the NDC, as the case may be; but that an election by the registered voters in the locality is what determines who is the Mayor or Chairperson, respectively.
The truth is that GECOM’s now publicly stated position is consistent with everyone who have publicly spoken on this matter, excepting, the Attorney General and Minister of Communities. They remain the only two persons who have a different interpretation of the very clear language of the law. It is now clear that even the three Commissioners, representing the Government on GECOM, disagree with them.
The Attorney General continues to defend legal proceedings which are manifestly indefensible and in the meanwhile, the Minister of Communities obviously, continues, to instruct his servants and or agents, the Town Clerk of Mabaruma and the Overseers of the tied NDCs, not to fix a date for the necessary elections although the law compels them to do so. In fact, the Attorney General is deliberately delaying the hearing of the case filed in the High Court. On the 16th of May, 2015, when the case was called before the Honorable Chief Justice, his excuse was that he is unavailable until the 29th of June, 2015, to present, not his substantive but his preliminary submissions – a clear dilatory tactic.
I take grave umbrage to GECOM’s passive and sedentary posture on this matter, having regard to its exclusive constitutional functions and mandate in respect of the conduct of elections as enshrined in Article 162 of the Constitution. It is instructive to note that among the repertoire of responsibilities which Article 162 devolves upon GECOM, is the following: “the Commission- … “shall issue such instructions and take such action as appear to it necessary or expedient to ensure impartiality, fairness and compliance with the provisions of this Constitution or of any Act of Parliament on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties connected with or relating to…” elections [( Article 162. (1) (b)]
Therefore, GECOM has a constitutional power and indeed a duty to issue instructions to persons who have to exercise powers or perform duties under any Act of Parliament in connections with elections in order to ensure compliance with the law and the Constitution. I submit that the Town Clerk, under Section 13 (6) of the Municipality and District Councils Act, Cap. 28:01, and the Overseer, under Section 28 (6) of the Local Government Act. Cap 28:02, are persons who fall within this category and to whom GECOM can give instructions pursuant to Article 162 (1) (b) of the Constitution.
In the circumstances, there is no need for GECOM to idly await a date coming from these officers for the holding of these elections. If these officers fail or refuse to fix such a date, then GECOM has the constitutional power and mandate to instruct them to do so. GECOM must do so now. Anything less would amount to an abdication of its constitutional mandate and responsibility.
Dated: 17th May, 2016