PPP says request for extension of GECOM’s continuous registration denied by Chair

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The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) says it wrote to the Chief Elections Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield, requesting an extension of the continuous registration exercise, but it was denied by the GECOM Chairman, Justice retired James Patterson, “who cast his vote against it.”

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (Retd.) Justice James Patterson

According to the PPP in a statement on the matter, in its request for an extension they pointed out that the exercise, which officially ended on Sunday, July 8, 2018, was initially scheduled to commence on May 07, 2018. However, it actually began two weeks after that date thereby truncating the desired period for registration.

“The PPP firmly believes that the request for an extension was crucial and reasonable given that a number of eligible registrants were unable to engage in the process due to insufficient time. The disadvantage resulting from the shortened period was further compounded by an inadequate and ineffective public relations support mechanism” said the party.

The Opposition said it raised these concerns with Lowenfield, who the party said indicated that he would express same to the Commission, and, noted, that there is room for an extension in the schedule leading up to the Local Government Elections.

However, “despite the initial assurance, when the PPP/C‘s request for extension was discussed at the last GECOM meeting, the Chairman, Justice Patterson, cast his vote against it. The request was therefore denied by majority vote” said the party.

As such, the PPP posited that, “given the importance of this process, especially in the context of openness and to prevent disenfranchisement, the PPP is disappointed that the Chairman, despite his recent public assurances of a free and fair election, was opposed to a short extension of the continuous registration exercise to allow persons who were unable to register and carry out other related transactions, including transfers, to do so.”

Moreover, the party noted that this latest action by the Chairman “is fast becoming a trend of partisanship following his earlier casting vote for the appointment of the Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) which denied the highest ranking candidate the position.”

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