AFC Chairman urges GECOM to get ready for elections

– in case State loses NCM cases at CCJ

Persons pushing for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to be in a state of readiness for General and Regional Elections, notwithstanding Friday’s Appellate Court decision, have found an unlikely ally in Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan.

Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan

During a Globespan Town Hall panel discussion on Saturday which featured Ramjattan and People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) parliamentarian Juan Edghill, Ramjattan stressed that he wanted GECOM to be in a state of readiness for elections, whenever they are called.
Ramjattan even committed to using his role as the leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) to push for GECOM to continue its preparations for elections. Persons have opined that because of Friday’s judgement, the pressure was off the Commission to get its house in order. Ramjattan disagreed.
“I am absolutely certain … in fact, I think, that both parties would want that GECOM prepare for an election. Remember there is a third round in the battle. And (we) could very well not win the third round. And there would obviously be a need for early elections.
“So GECOM must prepare. And I, as Chairman of my party, will urge that the GECOM Chairman and the Commissioners there and the Secretariat continue the work to ensure the preparations will be completed in good time for even an early election.”
That being said, Ramjattan is sticking to the Government’s position that house-to-house registration must be held. On the contrary, however, Edghill insisted that GECOM had a responsibility to have been ready in the first place.
“The Constitution envisions for GECOM to always be ready for elections in 90 days. There are three instances in which you can have elections in Guyana. A no-confidence motion – 90 days. The President at any time in his five-year term can call elections. The Parliament dissolved? Elections. GECOM needs to stop making excuses,” the Member of Parliament said.

Before Friday’s fateful Appellate Court judgement turned everything on its head, the parliamentary Opposition and other observers had accused Government of attempting to delay the holding of the constitutionally-mandated elections following the no-confidence resolution of December 21, 2018.
The three-month time frame in which the polls were to be held was validated in January by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, who declared that the motion was validly passed 33-32.

MP Juan Edghill

The complaint has been that GECOM was unforthcoming about its preparedness for the mandatory elections despite being mandated by the Constitution of Guyana to hold elections within three months of the passage of a no-confidence motion.
In fact, during a previous meeting with Opposition and Government Chief Whips, the GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice James Patterson abruptly ended a meeting on the Commission’s preparedness after he was pressed for answers.
The trend of meetings of GECOM Commissioners ending abruptly would continue, as both sides pushed for different objectives. While the Opposition-nominated Commissioners would push for early elections, the Government-nominated Commissioners would argue for delaying elections through house-to-house registration.
Prior to the ruling on Friday, Government had written to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to inform him that President David Granger would soon be naming a date for elections. Now that the Appeal Court has ruled the no-confidence motion was not validly passed, this is now in limbo.
However, the parliamentary Opposition has made it clear that it would appeal the ruling, at the level of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).