Reference is made to an editorial titled, “GECOM and elections in three months” in which criticism is levelled at both GECOM and Government for delays regarding calling new elections after the successful passage of the December 21 no-confidence motion, despite the Constitution requiring a new election within three months (see Article 106 (7)).
Specifically, the editorial states: “All of the talk that has emanated from APNU+AFC as it relates to the holding of house-to-house enumeration for a new list is pure fatuity. House-to-house enumeration is always desirable if you have the money and time. However, the Constitution rules. It says elections in three months with an extension of the timeframe only being possible if two-thirds of the National Assembly agrees to such.”
First, a point already raised by this writer in a letter dated January 12, 2019 in Stabroek News (see “Since December 21, the Constitution says Guyana has a ‘defeated’ Gov’t which is, therefore, a caretaker regime”), Government should not have been allowed to replace the constitutionally-mandated three-month timeframe with its premeditative standard of GECOM’s readiness or “administrative capabilities.”
Clearly, this occurred on January 9, 2019, in a meeting between Government and the Opposition, where the former imposed this new threshold or standard (that is, GECOM’s readiness) for calling new elections that do not exist in the Constitution. Secondly, while the Opposition may be credited for having participated in this meeting in good faith, someone may now argue that Government and the Opposition acted as if they were supreme laws onto themselves that day.
The Opposition should have objected to this “readiness” standard, if one will, and instead, demand a timeframe for new elections. All this new talk of house-to-house registration by Government is simply its groundwork to force the Opposition to agree to an extension of time to call new elections.
However, the law should not be used simultaneously as both a sword and a shield. That is, Government cannot trample upon Article 106 (7) outside of Parliament today, and then run to Parliament tomorrow and use this very Article 106 (7) to beg for mercy.
Finally, the Opposition should have already issued a statement that it will not agree to any extension of time to hold new elections by way of Parliament, in light of Government’s bad-faith delay tactics.