GECOM still to determine way forward on new general elections


Yet another meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) ended on Friday without an agreement on the way forward on House to House registration or General and Regional Elections.

“The sticky point is that we don’t have consensus,” Government-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander told the media after the meeting which lasted for over three hours.

“What we need to do is to cross the hurdle of our finite interpretation of and application of the Chief Justice’s ruling,” Alexander added.

Government-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander

The Chief Justice(ag) Roxane George-Wiltshire on August 14 ruled that it would be unconstitutional to remove persons from the voters list using the new National Register of Registrants which will be derived from the current House to House registration exercise.

The Government has argued that the registration exercise is needed to sanitise the voters list by removing names of persons who are deceased or no longer reside in Guyana.

The question now, Alexandar asked, is “how do you sanitise the list?” Alexander told reporters.

The Government-nominated Commissioner alluded to Article 40 of the National Registration Act which specifies that the Chief Immigration Officer supply a list of persons who would have departed and returned to Guyana and their addresses every three months.

However, he said time is against this proposal and such referred to Article 38 of the Act which provides for the registration officer to cancel the registration of someone if the officer is satisfied that he/she is dead or if the person was registered more than once.

Article 38 also provides for the removal of a name if “the registration officer is satisfied that such a person is not qualified to be registered.”

According to the Alexander, the Commission will meet again on Tuesday where each Commissioner will be given the opportunity to make proposals on the way forward.

“All commissioners are free to submit proposals in relation to the way forward…the proposals are specific to a response to the Chief Justice’s ruling,” he told reporters.

At Friday’s meeting, he said the Commission continued discussions on the need for the controversial registration exercise “and the need to ensure whatever we do is done in a timely manner.”

On August 15, the Commission agreed that the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield would submit list of scenarios to be considered but according to Alexander, the Commission has not yet discussed those proposals.

“My own disposition is that those scenarios essentially speak to…lots of time and before we get to specifics of lots of time, what we need to do is to cross the hurdle of our finite interpretation of and application of the Chief Justice’s ruling,” he said.

Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj in a short comment to the media accused the other Commissioners of engaging in delaying tactics.

Attorney-at-law Sase Gunraj

“It is clear that the delaying tactics continued and that has stymied any development,” he said.

He reiterated that “there is nothing new that I need to say, we need to have elections in the earliest manner.”

The Commission has met three times since the Chief Justice ruled on the registration exercise.

The exercise, which began on July 20, is set to conclude on October 20.

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