House-to-house registration to begin by June – GECOM

As all of Guyana patiently awaits the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the No-confidence Motion appeal that was passed in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was ordered to still prepare for elections and registration for this process is likely to begin by June. This was confirmed by GECOM’s Public Relations Officer, Yolanda Warde.
Warde in an invited comment told Guyana Times on Monday that the necessary training for election officials has begun in several areas across the country.
“The decision for house-to-house registration was initially part of our 2019 work programme as agreed to by the Commission and subsequently, I think sometime in February where the Commission had moved a motion to return to its original work programme in light of all that has happened during the No-confidence Motion. In so doing, the Secretariat has commenced its preparations for the conduct of house-to-house registration and so I think it was the weekend of the 23rd and 24th of March training for the trainers commenced. Subsequently, there was the training in Georgetown I think at 16 locations on the weekend of the 30th and 31st (of March) and of as at yesterday (Sunday) training continued on the East Coast and on the East Bank (of Demerara),” Ward explained.
According to her, the training was conducted for persons who serve as Assistant Registration Officers and enumerators during the period.
That training is expected to wind down sometime in May, she detailed, as it is expected to have a six-week to two-month duration. It was on this note that she informed Guyana Times of GECOM’s plans to begin house-to-house registrations in June.
“We anticipate all things being equal, that training should conclude sometime in May. We haven’t definitely determined that timeline as yet but once training is finished, I figure by the first week in June, the actual conduct of house-to-house registration will commence,” the PRO indicated.
She pointed out that this process will run for about three to four months.
The PRO was unable to say how long after hosting the registration process GECOM would be ready to facilitate elections.
She would only say, “Pending all the new developments right now that has happened, as you know initially the Chairman of the Commission had written to the President indicating a November timeline given that house-to-house registration would have wrapped up by then and to move into elections by the end of November. As you know, things have evolved since then there has been a Court of Appeal ruling and subsequently now to the CCJ so whatever other timelines are being looked at I think that would be based on the outcome of those rulings and whatever other decisions are to be taken.”
Warde reminded that President David Granger has committed to providing the Commission with the additional funds it needs to facilitate the much anticipated elections.
According to her, those additional monies would be absolutely necessary, if GECOM is to host free and fair elections in a timely manner.
The PRO was keen to note, “ Shorter time period means that you need more staff, you need rapid procurement, you need a number of other (things) so it means that cost will eventually go up and so our request was taking all those factors into consideration”.

CCJ case
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had initially requested that the CCJ to rule on the no-confidence matter before April 30, when the current voters’ list expires. However the matter is to be heard on May 10.
On March 22, the Appeal Court in a 2:1 ruling said a majority of 34 votes would have been needed to validly pass the No-confidence Motion brought against the Government last year.
The ruling means the motion was not validly passed, and hence the coalition Administration was not toppled as a result of the events that occurred in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018 – when the minority Opposition had secured the crossover vote of former Alliance For Change (AFC) Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud to obtain a 33 majority to pass the No-confidence Motion in the National Assembly.
Government had subsequently asked the House to reverse the passage of the motion, but its Speaker, Dr Barton Scotland, had declined the request.
As such, Government had gone to the High Court to challenge the validity of the motion, saying that a 34 majority is needed for it to be successfully passed.
Acting Chief Justice Roxane George had, in January, upheld the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-confidence Motion, ruling that in Guyana’s 65-member National Assembly a majority is 33.
Since the passage of the no-confidence resolution, GECOM has been accused of dragging its feet with respect to elections preparation.