President’s deferral of election’s date to GECOM is “unacceptable”- Civil Society groups
Several civil society groups are calling on President David Granger to proclaim a date for the holding of General and Regional Elections.
The groups, which include religious and business organisations, in a statement Monday noted that the President’s move to let the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) commissioners solve their internal issues and inform him of a suitable date is “unacceptable.”
“Giving GECOM effective power to determine when elections will be held is a position for which no Constitutional support exists,” the organisations pointed out.
The President, following meetings with the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo and Chairman of GECOM, Justice James Patterson last week, said he is awaiting the advice from the Commission on its readiness after which he will proclaim a date.
However, the civil society bodies said since GECOM is comprised of persons chosen by the two major parties, leaving the commissioners to resolve their issues is intended to evade the problem.
“Since GECOM is comprised of persons chosen by the two major parties, assigning a problem that the two party leaders cannot resolve to their selected acolytes in GECOM seems intended more to evade than resolve the issue. Guyanese citizens deserve better,” the groups noted.
They argued that given the not-too-distant local elections held in November 2018, GECOM is more prepared than normal.
“The only task around which ‘unprepared’ is ever raised is the Voters’ List,” the bodies noted, adding that in light of the role fake Voters Lists have played historically in Guyana, their importance cannot be belittled.
However, it was noted that “while vigilance about a clean List is important, we have to be equally vigilant about political manipulation of historical memories.”
It was pointed out that the main problem of a ‘bloated list’ is it retains names of dead or migrated persons and to this extent artificially lowers the ‘turn-out’ percentages.
However, a ‘bloated list’ does not disenfranchise individual citizens, since unregistered persons can find their way to one of the hundreds of GECOM offices around the country as part of the continuous registration process GECOM conducts on a daily basis.
“Moreover, notwithstanding the decision to renovate the Voters List every seven years, neither of the major parties took steps to ensure this was undertaken and cannot credibly invoke the need to do so now.”
For the above reasons, the Civil Society Forum believes that deferring the exercise of Presidential responsibility to set the date for elections to such time as GECOM determines its own readiness is unacceptable.
The organisations are the Anglican, Guyana Presbyterian and Roman Catholic churches, Guyana Human Rights Association, Movement Against Parking Meter, Inter-Religious Organization, Transparency Institute of Guyana Incorporated, Guyana Rastafarian Community, Guyana Agriculture Workers Union, Private Sector Commission, Red Thread, Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana and RISE Guyana.