House to house registration is in defiance of court order- Jagdeo

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Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Thursday said his party will explore ways to challenge the house-to-house registration exercise set to begin on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

Speaking at his weekly press conference at his Church Street, Georgetown office on Thursday, Jagdeo said it is worrying that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is moving ahead with house to house registration when it should be preparing for General and Regional Elections.

“It represents an open defiance by the Chief Elections Officer of GECOM to the Constitution of Guyana and to the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice. He is openly defying these,” the Opposition Leader said.

A National Registration (Residents) Order 2019 was published in the Official Gazette this week stating that the registration process will begin on July 20 and conclude October 20 but it was signed since June 11 by former Chairman of GECOM, Justice (Rtd) James Patterson.

Patterson has since left the post after the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that the process by which he was appointed was flawed.

Jagdeo raised concerns over the fact that the order is only now being disclosed and argued that if it was revealed before the court ruled on June 18, then the CCJ would have taken it into consideration.

The CCJ on June 18 upheld the passage of the December 21 No-Confidence motion against the Government and on July 12 issued an order that elections should be held in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.

The Constitution states that elections should be held within three months of the No-Confidence motion being passed but that time expired on March 21, however, President of the CCJ Justice Adrian Saunders also explained that the consequences of the motion was on pause until the final appellate court ruled on June 18.

This essentially pushed the three-month deadline to September 18.

Jagdeo on Thursday said GECOM is embarking on a process that will not end up with elections being held within three months.

“So clearly, the [Chief Elections Officer] is acting in contempt of the court order issued on the 12th of July by the Caribbean Court of Justice,” Jagdeo said.

Asked what can be done, Jagdeo said the opposition will have to resort to pressuring GECOM to stop this process and instead, begin preparations for General and Regional Elections.

On Wednesday, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Member Anil Nandlall wrote a letter to Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on behalf of the Opposition Leader in which he requested that the Commission “immediately commence preparations for the holding of General and Regional Elections on a date no later than 18th day of September 2019.”

Jagdeo said he has not received a response.

The Opposition Leader and President David Granger are currently involved in an informal process of selecting a new Chairman for GECOM.

The President had told the media that as soon as the Chair is appointed, the process towards smooth and credible national elections will begin.

Jagdeo on Thursday said the selection process is making progress and he still has hopes of it being completed in days.

“This is one area we are making progress in and I would like it to continue,” Jagdeo said.

The President has already found favour with four names nominated by the Opposition Leader. The two sides need to agree on two more names to become a part of the final list of six names to be submitted to the President for the appointment.

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