A sense of nervous apprehension has imbued the general atmosphere across Guyana as the entire nation awaits the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). The imminent pronouncement of the decision relates to the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) laid in the National Assembly by the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, which the House subsequently debated and the Speaker ruled as carried on December 21, 2018.
The constitutional consequences of the passed NCM signals that the Government has fallen. In every democracy, it is imperative for the incumbent leader, under such circumstance, to adhere strictly with the constitutional mechanisms for the resolution of the obvious impasse. This, stubbornly, has not been the situation with the APNU/AFC coalition Government in Guyana. After initially accepting the decision of the Parliament, the fallen Government has abusively feigned interpretations of every precedent, judicial and normal procedure to cling to a clearly unwelcomed stay in power.
The resulting reverberations across the political landscape of the country are definitive, and in the eyes of the majority, is no longer tenable as a position of normalcy before becoming catastrophic. At the time of writing, almost thirty days have passed since the hearing of the matter by the CCJ, even though all indications had been towards an expedient and definitive ruling. While the CCJ ponderously deliberate, our nation continues to wait anxiously as angst and frustration build to an intolerable crescendo.
In context, the recent reopening of the matter raises national tensions given the clearly demonstrated and strengthened national support of the political Opposition under the astute leadership of Bharrat Jagdeo, presidential candidate Irfaan Alli and the winning PPP/C team.
Given the notions and clearly biased incantations led by the coalition’s Commissioners and supported by President Granger’s unilaterally selected Chairman, the implications for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are obvious. Indeed, under this clear imbalance at the Commission, GECOM policies have reflected deliberate power extension approaches, by this quartet adopting measures to effectively delay elections. The CCJ’s rulings will be binding on GECOM as a party to the case, and enforce impartiality within the intent of the Constitution; extraordinarily slighted by Justice (retired) James Patterson
After Local Government Elections in December 2018, and contrary to the always-required state of readiness as a mandate of the institution, there is suddenly need to clean the List of Electors by the method of house-to-house registration. PNC/R GECOM Commissioner Charles Corbin recently said that GECOM aims to have a clean list by October 31. He went on to say that whatever method GECOM takes, house-to-house or otherwise, GECOM will be able to reach a deadline of October 31.
Contrastingly, GECOM’s handpicked Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Meyers, said that GECOM Secretariat would need nine months to complete the house-to-house exercises in preparation of the new List of Electors. She stated that “even if we take on more men this child will not be born when the PNC ready for the birth”. Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield and the Public Relations Officer Ms Yolanda Ward also previously stated that GECOM is ready for National and Regional Elections. The conflicting reports and announcements by GECOM’s senior staff are very worrying.
These ‘blind’ dates of affairs are very serious matters which cements uncertainty, and it suggests that the PNC/APNU wants to start a house-to-house registration process just to commit the Opposition to such an unacceptable activity and extend further delays.
Further, although the matter is part of the case at the CCJ, the defiance by the cabal quartet continues as they forge ahead in the sinister delaying approach. The Judges at the CCJ must be cognisant that adherence to the Constitution is pivotal to our democracy and in preventing further damages to our country. This is an illegal APNU/AFC Government, and we must have Regional and National Elections now.
Notably, the GECOM Secretariat is not responsible for the employment of staff at GECOM. Hence, it is not acceptable for this nation to accept their hiring of enumerators. Sadly, too many things taking place under the current approval of this Elections Commission at GECOM is illegal or highly questionable.
Corbin also said that GECOM has serious problems with the procurement of certain materials to conduct the registration exercise. Procurement of materials for GECOM is under serious scrutiny but there is need for the Secretariat to declare to the Commission what they have in stock, and the Commission must be satisfied with good auditing of the stocks.
While Commissioner Corbin complains bitterly about the procurement procedures, the difficulties in obtaining the materials for conducting the registration exercise is utter nonsense, since there is no need for the conduct of the exercise in the first place. The situation highlights the high state of inefficacy taking place at the Secretariat, not to mention the lawlessness led by the imbalanced Commission. It cannot be denied, however, that corruption is so prevalent at GECOM that nobody or organisation wants to be involved with them. Herein, involves the real need for cleansing!
It is the transparency of procedures to support GECOM’s continuous readiness to hold elections at short notice which is ideal and required. Let us have free and fair elections following the CCJ’s rulings.