Govt, Opposition Commissioners’ meeting with new GECOM Chair cordial
Following more than three hours of talks with the new Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice Claudette Singh, the Government-nominated commissioners appeared to have toned down their push for the conduction of House-to-House Registration.
After Wednesday’s meeting at the GECOM headquarters, Commissioner Vincent Alexander told reporters that they discussed “everything possible”— including House-to-House Registration— in a cordial atmosphere.
When asked, however, whether they still support the conduct of fresh registration, which is currently ongoing, Alexander said “…at this time, yes”. But when further pressed if this position was likely to change, the Government-nominated Commissioner insisted that the voters’ list should be sanitised for the upcoming elections.
“My view is that there should be sanitation of the list, sanitation of the National Register of Registrants (NRR) for the provision of list that can provide friendly elections. That is not likely to change… So far (sanitisation via House-to-House) is a matter which is on the table,” Alexander told reporters.
The sanitising of the voters’ list is something the Opposition has been calling for with Claims and Objections.
House-to-House Registration started on July 20, and it was reported that some 50,000 persons have already registered. The exercise is scheduled to last up to three months, which will pass the September 18, 2019 deadline given for the holding of early elections.
Claims and Objections period
The PPP Opposition and its nominated commissioners at GECOM have been contended that the current voters’ list can be cleaned through an extended Claims and Objections period. This method was confirmed by both the Chief Elections Officers (CEO) Keith Lowenfield and GECOM’s legal advisor Attorney-at-Law Excellence Dazzle.
Meanwhile, following the near two-hour long meeting earlier on Wednesday with the Opposition-nominated commissioners, media operatives were told that the engagement was also very cordial. In fact, Commissioner Sase Gunraj related that the new GECOM Chair appeared receptive and respectful of their views.
“Obviously some of the issues that were discussed are all matters that are in the public domain in relation to the conduct of elections as constitutionally due. The issue of House-to-House Registration was raised, the alternative of Claims and Objections etc – those were all the issues raised,” he noted.
The Opposition Commissioner would not say, however, what views Justice Singh hold on the ongoing registration exercise.
“I’m not at liberty to disclose her views on House-to-House… but I am satisfied that I’ve raised the issues and dealt with the factors that militate against the conduct of House-to-House registration at this point, vis-à-vis the holding of elections… I believe it is my duty to convince her of my position and views, and I’ve presented those views as best as I could as part of a team that met with her this morning… We look forward to have meaningful deliberations with all sides present when that time comes,” he stated.
Wednesday’s meetings with the commissioners from the two sides come on the heels of a series of meetings held on Tuesday by Justice Singh and with CEO Lowenfield and other GECOM officials as she familiarises herself with the operations at the elections body.
While many are awaiting a decision from her as to whether they will continue with the House-to-House exercise, or use Claims and Objections to sanitise the voters’ list in time for early elections as mandated by the Caribbean Court of Justice in its June 18 rulings and subsequently July 12 consequential orders, Justice Singh has already stated that any decision she makes will be in accordance with the Guyana Constitution.