Govt using delaying tactics on elections – political commentator

Outspoken political commentator and economist Ramon Gaskin has voiced concern over the current political situation in the country, accusing the Government of trying to delay the holding of General and Regional Elections in Guyana within the stipulated 90-day period.
Gaskin said that the Government was making strategic moves all aimed towards delaying the democratic process from taking place. He said the first move was to challenge the no-confidence resolution that was passed in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018.
“Everything that the Government is doing, including going to court, is a delay tactic … it is aimed at delaying the holding of elections. And this meeting between the Chief Whips and the GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) is just another set of delay,” he asserted.
Gaskin also questioned the reason for giving Chief Whips Gail Teixeira and Amna Ally the responsibility of inquiring from GECOM its readiness for elections. He argued that Government and the Opposition have three representatives each on the Commission.
“The whole question of these two Chief Whips to find out whether GECOM is ready is extremely unusual, and each of these parties has three Commissioners there,” he pointed out.
The Government is represented by Vincent Alexander, Desmond Trotman and Charles Corbin while the Opposition representatives are Bibi Shadick, Robeson Benn and Sase Gunraj.
Gaskin, a former advisor to late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan, told <<<Guyana Times>>> on Sunday that these individuals would have a more intimate understanding of the Commission’s work. Further, he believes that their constitutional posts give them an advantage to gather that information.
“So, I don’t see a need to send them [the Chief Whips] in. And the Constitution is clear on having these members. It’s all nonsense, unnecessary and it might even be trespassing on the work of the Commission,” he said.
Gaskin also made reference to the health of the GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, who recently requested an extension of his medical leave. He was hospitalised last month, and was expected to return to GECOM last week to host a statutory meeting.
“The man is not well and that by itself lends to a delay. I don’t doubt that they will also appeal the court decision, if it is not in its (Government’s) favour. They may take that matter to the Supreme Court and all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ),” he added.

Not ready
Government wants the court to rule on whether the Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Barton Scotland’s decision on the December 21, 2018 motion was indeed carried by a majority of all elected members and whether or not the 33 to 32 breakdown meant it was validly passed.
Meanwhile, a private citizen named Compton Reid filed a petition in the court challenging the validity of the vote of former Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud, who helped pass the motion, stating that he had falsely declared that he was a Guyanese citizen.
The political commentator also pointed to recent comments made by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo where he stated that elections should be held before April, especially since the list of electors would expire during that month and would therefore prompt new registration.
“I am certain once they continue to delay this process, and it extends to that time, they will also start talking about reregistration. With how things are going, I don’t see elections being held anytime soon. Not in the next 90 days and who knows, not even this year,” he concluded.
Gaskin claimed that the reason for all these delays was not only to hold on to power, but he believes that the major party within the coalition, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), “which, in a nutshell, is basically PNC (People’s National Congress)” was not ready.
He told Guyana Times, “The PPP (People’s Progressive Party) is ready, because they have been campaigning all along, ever since 2015 and they haven’t stopped, but the PNC is not ready especially with the poor showing at local elections for the AFC (Alliance For Change).”
GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield has already declined to meet with the Chief Whips. A decision was made during a meeting between Jagdeo and President David Granger for the two individuals to find out the readiness of GECOM for an election.
However, Teixeira said Saturday that Lowenfield deferred the meeting to the GECOM Chairman, who is himself on extended medical leave. Teixeira said a meeting with Lowenfield would probably have been better, since a number of technical matters would have been dealt with.
Meanwhile, Ally, in an interview with the State media, stated that Lowenfield did not have a difficulty in meeting with them. But, nevertheless, he still requested that they seek out Patterson.
It was announced recently that Patterson had his medical leave extended, even as the three-month deadline mandated by the Constitution for elections after a successful no-confidence vote approaches and preparations are at a standstill. (Samuel Sukhnandan)