GECOM Chairman supports elections before year-end – says PPP

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Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh has indicated that the Commission is working towards holding elections this year, according to the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP).

Following a meeting with the Chairman and GECOM Commissioners on Tuesday, PPP Member Joseph Hamilton said “we were pleased by the comments of the chair indicating that she and the Commission is working towards having an election long before the end of the year.”

Hamilton accompanied Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall along with PPP members Gail Teixeira and Juan Edghill to the meeting at GECOM High Street, Kingston Georgetown headquarters.

In a video comment shared with the media after the meeting, Hamilton said, “at the end of the meeting, the chair indicated that she has taken everything into consideration presented by the Opposition Leader and team and indicated further that she as chair and the Commission is working towards a timeline –having elections long before the end of the year.”

After the meeting, the Opposition Leader told the media that the Chairman shared “some encouraging words” which made him feel “better” about the holding of general and regional elections but he did not disclose what was said.

The statutory meeting continued after the PPP left.

PPP Member Joseph Hamilton

GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj told the media that the Commission’s response to the meeting with the opposition members was “very receptive.”

However, when questioned on the Chairman’s views, he said: “the reaction from the Chairperson has to come from the Chairperson, not me.”

The Opposition wants elections this year and said the merging of the National Register of Registrants (NRR) and the recently concluded House to House registration will delay the holding of elections.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Jagdeo shared with the Commission a proposal to extract a voters list from the National Register and going straight to a Claims and Objections period.

Gunraj, an Attorney-at-law, said the Commission did not make a decision on the merging of the data.

He disclosed that the Commission will meet again on Thursday at 09:30hrs to continue discussions.

According to Gunraj, at a previous meeting, the Commission agreed to maintain the statutory timelines for the holding of elections.

“We have agreed to engage our suppliers to reduce the times to supply e.g. printing materials and so on so that we can have elections early,” the GECOM Commissioner said.

The GECOM Secretariat on Friday last proposed March 2020 for the holding of elections, a timeline not supported by the Opposition.

Asked whether this timeline can be reviewed, Government nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander told the media that there is no room for adjustments.

“I’m not supporting a review; I’ll participate in a discussion,” Alexander said.

He maintained that the list of electors needs to be updated.

“He [Mr. Jagdeo] was saying that he is quite sure Commissioners can put their heads on the block about the list and I said I would not prepare for him to volunteer my head on the block nor was I volunteering my head because I have over the years internally expressed concerns about the list,” Alexander told the media.

The GECOM Commissioner said he has raised repeated questions about the list since 2011 because it was observed there were spikes in certain parts of the country in terms of registration.

The House to House registration commenced on July 20 to clean the list as the Government repeatedly said it is bloated, however, it was stopped at the end of August by Justice Singh following complaints about a delay in the date for elections.

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