The CCJ cannot rule, Guyana is independent, with independent laws – Min. of State

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Government Ministers, Members of Parliament and other supporters on Friday protested the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as the APNU+AFC coalition insists on the need for house-to-house registration.

On the frontline was Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams who told the media that despite whatever consequential orders are issued by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on Monday, only GECOM has the authority to dictate when elections should be held.

“GECOM is the only authoritative body that will inform the Government whether they’re ready or not for elections. CCJ cannot rule; Guyana has its own institution.

“Guyana is an independent country with its own independent laws,” she said in an interview with media personnel.

The Minister said the Government has decided that “there must be credible house-to-house registration in order to have credible elections.”

The CCJ on Tuesday ruled that the December 21st, 2018 No-Confidence Motion against the Government was validly passed, necessitating early general elections. Given that the ruling was made three months after the constitutional deadline for holding of general elections has passed, the court gave the Government and Opposition until Monday, June 24 to find consensus. Then it will meet again to give its orders on the way forward.

GECOM has already trained over 5,000 persons for the house-to-house registration exercise as it decided earlier this year to move ahead with the process.

Hastings-Williams said Friday’s protest is “to remind them that we must have house to house registration,” despite arguments from the Opposition that the exercise is not needed.

“The list is corrupted…It is bloated…We cannot go into elections with the list…We have to register our youths,” she noted.

Recently appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings told the media that “we abide by the rules but at the same time, we have to take care of our sovereignty.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Karen Cummings

The Opposition which wants elections within three months, argued that the current list can be updated using the National Register of Registrants which lists everyone over 14 who has registered.

Chanting “house to house is a must, no registration no elections” and “the youths vote must count,” the protestors marched in a circle at the Main and Urquhart Streets intersection, Georgetown.

The protest which began at 10:00hrs was supposed to be held infront of the Guyana Elections Commission’s headquarters on High Street but police ranks who arrived at the location earlier blocked every street leading to the GECOM headquarters.

The protest saw a major participation of youths from the Alliance For Change (AFC) youth arm, Youth for Change (YFC).

“There are some persons who should not be on the list and their names being there, it can be used to rig an elections and we do not want that,” Brittany Eversley, a YFC representative told the media.

Brittany Eversley

Another YFC representative, said: “Ee need to give our youths a chance to vote…as an advocate, I would advocate for all young people across the whole atmosphere in Guyana because I feel young people should have their say.”

Government Member of Parliament Michael Carrington said the dead persons’ names must be removed from the voters list.

He said immediate elections is not possible since many persons will be disenfranchised.

Protests were also held infront of the GECOM offices in Regions One, Two, six and Seven.

Protest in Mabaruma (Facebook user photo)

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Thursday afternoon indicated that the opposition will be asking the CCJ to order that elections be held within three months.

Jagdeo rubbished arguments by President Granger that the list used for elections just last November is outdated and corrupted.

Jagdeo said the current list can be updated using the National Register of Registrants which lists everyone over 14 who has registered. From that register, the voters list is prepared.

Jagdeo said that since the last house to house registration exercise, there have been 10 periods of continuous registration, including five cycles since the 2015 general elections, and so anyone aged 14 and over up to October 31, 2018, could have been registered.

Now, he said there could be a short period of Claims and Objections period to clean up the list, including removing dead persons off the list.

Jagdeo argued that house to house registration is a “ploy” to delay elections.

But Jagdeo said GECOM has to comply with the constitution.

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