GECOM’s house-to-house registration imminent – PRO
– even as country awaits rulings from Caribbean Court of Justice
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is forging ahead with preparations to conduct house-to-house registration which is expected to commence by the end of June.
GECOM’s Public Relations Officer (PRO), Yolanda Ward, in a telephone interview with Guyana Times, explained that the Commission is not reneging on executing this initiative that is seen as absolutely necessary.
“The exercise will commence sometime later this month. I do not have a definitive date as yet. The Commission is deliberating on a day to start the process.”
In relation to the process being “halted” a few days ago, she explained that this delay did not necessarily mean that GECOM would have put aside the house-to-house registration process.
“I think what had initially happened was that the anticipated timeline to commence the field exercise was scheduled for June 1 (2019). That was what we were looking at tentatively. So, that did not happen but house-to-house registration is still on, just that it will start at a later time than anticipated,” Ward stated.
According to Ward, the process is expected to last for an average of three months.
However, the elections body is standing firm by its belief that the exercise is mandatory before the next General and Regional Elections are held.
The issue was first raised by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at a recent press conference.
Last week, after the statutory meeting, Government-nominated Commissioner Charles Corbin had disclosed that there were some procurement issues at the election Secretariat which by extension will delay the process.
Nevertheless, Ward had previously told Guyana Times that the training of staff required for the exercise has been completed and they are now in the process of tidying up placements.
Although GECOM is forging ahead with house-to-house registration, the country awaits a ruling from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the December 2018 passage of the Opposition’s No-Confidence Motion.
The Trinidad-based regional court is currently deliberating on several appeals which are asking it to overturn the Guyana Court of Appeal’s March ruling which invalidated the passage of the motion of no-confidence against the coalition Government.
The CCJ is being asked to throw out the Appeal Court’s ruling and uphold the High Court’s January decision that the motion was validly passed and as such, Government should resign and call elections.
In May, the CCJ panel heard submissions from the parties and is expected to hand down its decision sometime this month.
According to the Opposition Leader, there are concerns brewing over the length of time the CCJ is taking to deliver its decision, especially since it was critical of the sloth with which the matter was dealt with here in Guyana.
Nevertheless, he posited that while they await that ruling, the staff at the Elections Commission should be cautious.
Meanwhile, the house-to-house registration exercise is being held amidst contention between the two sides of political Commissioners at GECOM.
The Opposition-nominated Commissioners had held out that there was no need for house-to-house registration when the old voters’ list could have been vetted and updated through a “Claims and Objections” period.
In fact, a similar view was recently shared by GECOM’s legal officer, Excellence Dazzell. She submitted a legal opinion, contending that house-to-house registration is not necessary and advised that another less time-consuming process be utilised in accordance with the law to update the list. But the lawyer’s advice was set aside by GECOM.