Home Top Stories GECOM must get serious with election preparations – Jagdeo
Mandatory Article 106 90-day due elections
…says Chief Justice ruling “removed any excuse for procrastination”
…election’s body still dragging feet on issue
…GECOM says Commission has to review Chief Justice’s ruling
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has indicated that should the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) continue to delay its election preparations, seeking legal remedies to compel such preparations are a possibility.
The People’s progressive Party General Secretary was at the time addressing a press conference at Freedom House, Georgetown. According to Jagdeo, Thursday’s ruling by acting Chief Justice Roxane George has removed any excuse for procrastination.
“We believe GECOM could be ready in the timeframe by March 19. Because if they have to have 50 days for Nomination Day and two weeks to notify the parties, they still have 50 days remaining.”
“And simultaneously, they can proceed with the procurement of material and all the other logistics, including training on an accelerated basis. We see this whole issue of house-to-house registration, which will take six months to a year, as a red herring.”
Jagdeo also had harsh words for GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson. Jagdeo noted that Patterson, as a former Judge, should be more cognisant of what is required of the constitutional agency.
“GECOM should respect the law. GECOM is headed by someone who is a former Judge. He should know by now that he is putting at risk, particularly in light of the ruling, that he is putting the entire country at risk by his refusal to put this matter on the agenda and engage with it seriously.”
“Given this ruling, the Judiciary has spoken, if they were concerned before that only the Legislature had confirmed the passage of the NCM. That all changed (Thursday) yesterday. They no longer have that excuse.”
Jagdeo emphasised that for the national good, GECOM should get serious about election preparations. And he laid out what the party is prepared to do to ensure that the Commission gets moving.
“We intend to look at GECOM. We’re probably going to pursue protest action against GECOM if it does not (act) and against the Government. We’re exploring whether we can go to the courts to direct GECOM to fulfil its constitutional duties and not to take directions from the Government, which wants to hang on to power at all costs.”
On Thursday, the Chief Justice ruled that the December 21, 2018, No- confidence Motion was validly passed against the Government. Justice George also denied the Government’s application for a stay of judgement, noting that the Constitution is clear.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Meanwhile, clause 7 goes on to state that “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
So far, GECOM’s level of preparedness for elections is still unclear and meetings to ascertain this have gone nowhere. Asked if he would consider sending in Chief Whip Gail Teixeira once again, Jagdeo noted that GECOM must fulfil its duty and the time for that has past.
When contacted, GECOM Public Relations Officer Yolanda Warde noted that issues relative to election preparation and the Chief Justice’s ruling have to be discussed at the level of the Commission when the next statutory meeting is held, provided it is put on the agenda.
GECOM successfully ran the Local Government Elections in November 2018, less than three months ago. The President of Guyana, according to the Constitution, has to dissolve Parliament and issue a date for elections.