GECOM’s house-to-house registration postponed

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By Bibi Khatoon

The house-to-house registration by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) which was slated to commence on June 1, 2019, has been postponed until further notice, Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward confirmed to the News Room Thursday.

The setback in the registration exercise was made public by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo at his weekly press conference.

Speaking with the News Room via telephone on Thursday afternoon, Ward said she is unaware of the new starting date for the registration exercise but it is being discussed by the Commission.

“They have determined a new timeline which they will announce when they have completed their deliberation,” she told the News Room.

Ward did not want to give a reason for the delay and while one online news agency, Demerara Waves attribute the set back to procurement challenges, GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj said no such information has been communicated to the Commission.

He said the delay itself is not engaging the attention of Commissioners.

“The reality is a paucity of info at the secretariat level,” he said.

Gunraj is one of three opposition nominated commissioners who have made known their disagreement with the Commission’s decision to move ahead with the registration process by walking out of weekly meetings; they have since chosen to stay through meetings.

He maintained that house-to-house registration is “unlawful.”

On May 13, GECOM’s Legal Officer, Excellence Dazzell presented an advice to the Commission in which she declared that there is no need for house-to-house registration to create a new list of electors. Instead, she said the current list which expired at the end of April should be updated.

The opinion which is addressed to the Chairman, Commissioners and Chief Election Officer of GECOM, referred to The Election Laws (Amendment) Act 15 of 2000 which explained that the list should be updated by adding names of persons who may have become eligible for registration and deleting names of those who have ceased to be qualified.

However, one week later, Government-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander told the media that GECOM  has no intention of abandoning the house to house registration exercise. The advice he said is “in a sense, water under the bridge,” as training for officers to conduct the exercise has already begun.

Alexander disclosed that 5,000 officers are being trained across the country which will afford a new list of Voters for elections no earlier than November 2019.

A private citizen has filed an application in the High Court to block GECOM from going forward with the house-to-house registration exercise.

Additionally, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is preparing to rule in a matter which may necessitate early general and regional elections in Guyana.

 

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