…on elections foot-dragging
Caretaker AG Basil Williams just filed an appeal against acting Chief Justice George’s ruling that no one can be struck off the voters’ list since there are no residency requirements for voting in Guyana. Williams purports to find such a “residency” requirement in the Registration Act Section 6 (2)(a) which states that “it shall be lawful for the Commission by order with effect from a specific date to authorise the registration of all persons in Guyana of the age of 14 years and over who at said date are resident in Guyana”.
Now, once again, Williams is either playing the fool or being true to his nature. After all, he referred to Art 159 of the Constitution – which is the highest law of the land and which no other law can contravene – on which Justice George had based her decision and which deals with “qualifications and disqualifications for electors”. Firstly, the article states simply that no one can vote in an election unless he/she is registered to do so. It then goes on to state (Sec 2) who CANNOT be registered – those not Guyanese citizens or Commonwealth citizens resident here for one year; or (Sec 3) are “insane or of unsound mind”; or finally, (Sec 4) have been convicted of an election violation.
As such, the Chief Justice had ruled “residence requirements from citizens is no longer a qualification for the registration”. Williams, however, pointed to clause (c) of Art 159 (2) which says that a registrant must also satisfy “such other qualifications as may be prescribed by or under any other law”. He cited the Sec (2) (a) of Registration Act as explained above.
But Justice George did, in fact, rule that the H2H Registration exercise was constitutional!! Everyone being registered was legit. What Justice George rejected was disenfranchising those already on the voters’ list just because they weren’t found at a particular location!! This was, the Chief Justice noted, because “the right to vote and the right to be registered to vote are sacrosanct”.
By insisting on creating a new National Register of Registrants (NRR) in the present H2H exercise – from which the Preliminary List of Voters (PLV) would be extracted and then subjected to a Claims and Objections (C&O) to produce the Official List of Voters (OLV) – this would “deregister” all those Guyanese who are abroad or away from some reason and deny them their fundamental right to vote.
It would be introducing, through the back door, an unconstitutional “residency” requirement to vote through the tautological requirement of Sec 6 (2) (a) – which just says residents CAN be registered.
Not that they can be deregistered!!
…on GECOM’s complicity
Once again, your Eyewitness asks whether the AG thinks the law is an ass, does GECOM have to agree with him? We now have a former Justice of the Appellate Court at its head and we still can’t cut through the Gordian knot that arises from the appointment mechanism of the other Commissioners?? What’s going on here? We hear about platitudes on letting “both sides be heard”.
But if we already heard one side committed a rape, what else is to be heard? That the rapist had a really bad itch to commit the act?? C’mon people. The PNC Government is trying every which way to drag out the elections timetable…and of course, every dog must have their day. But must they have their MONTHS when the Chair knows that the NCM three-month is ticking? And in fact, the cock has already crowed thrice on the second go around?? The GECOM Chair’s “to be or not to be” performance has already given the PNC the window of opportunity to file the case described above.
Enough of this dilly-dallying!!
…with petulant Patterson
Called out by the Opposition’s former Junior Finance Minister on a long list of murky projects, MPI Patterson retorted, “You show me yours and I will show you mine”!!
But his slip was already showing!!