Whatever CCJ rules, GECOM cannot hold elections till late November – GECOM Commissioner
By Bibi Khatoon
Even if the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) upholds the December 21 No Confidence motion, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will not be able to hold general elections, Desmond Trotman, a Commissioner at GECOM said Tuesday.
Trotman, in an interview with the media on Tuesday, maintained that the Commission cannot hold elections before the end of November as was previously communicated to President David Granger.
“The Commission has already said based on information coming from the Secretariat that elections cannot be held earlier than November month end and the Commission has been hard-pressed to arrive at that date,” he told reporters.
Asked about possible elections if the court explores extending the life of list, which expired on April 30, Trotman said: “[I’m] not sure if that can be done.”
There are currently three cases before the CCJ, one of which was made by the Opposition requesting that the final appellate court upholds the No-Confidence motion passed against the Government on December 21, 2018.
If the CCJ upholds the motion, it will then have to direct what happens next, given that the constitutional three-month deadline for the holding of elections has already passed.
If the CCJ does uphold the No Confidence vote, it may ask to hear further from the GECOM attorney.
Questions were raised by President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders, whether GECOM should not always be prepared to hold elections within three months, given the possibility of a No Confidence motion.
However, Trotman argued that “the commission cannot act in relation to an election until it has money.”
“It is all well and good to say that the commission should be in a position to carry out elections but one of the primary things for the commission to act…is money and the commission is only given money for elections when elections are due,” he added.
The money GECOM was budgeted last year is more than adequate to hold elections, lawyers have argued, but GECOM is insistent on using the money for house to house to house registration was needed.
The old list was used for four elections, including the most recent Local Government elections.
GECOM in a letter to the President on March 20th said it needs $3.5B to hold elections since monies currently budgeted for house-to-house registration cannot be transferred for other uses.
“I believe that if it the CCJ rules against the Government, that the government will have to go ask for money,” Trotman said.
However, GECOM is an autonomous body and can decide what it does with its funds.
The Commission has commenced training of approximately 8,000 persons to conduct house-to-house registration process across the country.
The opposition has deemed the process illegal since it argues that the sum allocated for registration could have been used to hold elections –this has led to Opposition nominated Commissioners walking out of approximately weekly meetings since March.
This week as well as last week, the Commissioners began sitting through the meetings.
“We’re not walking out. We only walk out when they want to discuss house-to-house registration. That’s illegal, we’re not discussing that but all other things we have to discuss.
“We’re commissioners of this Commission,” Commissioner Bibi Shadick told reporters on Tuesday.
As result of the renewed cooperation, the Commissioners were able to go through minutes of meetings from the Secretariat up to May 07.