Home Letters Opposition’s criticisms on role of Govt GECOM Commissioners are valid
The comments by the PNC-led coalition Government-nominated GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, as captured in the Guyana Chronicle report on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 – captioned “No space for polls this year” – make it clear that the parliamentary Opposition’s criticisms on the role of the Government Commissioners at GECOM are valid.
Vincent Alexander’s maintained demeanour during this uncertain period and comments demonstrate clearly that the primary focus of the Government Commissioners at GECOM is to delay General and Regional Elections that should have been held since March 21, 2019 – even with their principal talks about elections being held before the end of the year.
Editor, I was part of the parliamentary Opposition delegation that met with the full Commission on Tuesday, September 10, 2019, and the GECOM Chairperson, retired Justice Claudette Singh, was pellucid when she stated that the views articulated by the Opposition Leader would be taken into consideration, with a view to having elections before the end of 2019.
Despite this, Vincent Alexander – happy with elections being delayed until 2020, a full year after it was constitutionally due – insists, according to the Guyana Chronicle report, that the GECOM Secretariat’s election timeline has no space for an election this year.
The election activities timelines that give March 2020 as the election date, which was proposed by the GECOM Secretariat – where elements have clearly been influenced by the likes of Vincent Alexander and others – can only be described as notorious, given the lengthy delays. For example, the allocation of 55 days between Nomination Day and Elections Day, when the standard period is 35 days.
The most recent version of the timelines of elections activities contemplates the start of Claims and Objections all the way until November 19, 2019. It also proposes other activities – the necessity of which has been discredited.
Also, only last week, I pointed out that any merger of data from the House-to-House Registration with the NRRDB is worrisome for several reasons. Firstly, the merger of the data with the existing National Register of Registrants will contaminate the database and it will/may take months to address any such contamination. Secondly, the data gathered is suspect since the gathering of said information was not scrutinised. Thirdly, the form used in the House-to-House Registration was not the statutory form required for such a purpose.
Editor, I wish to remind, that since March 2019, a work-plan was proposed by the Opposition-nominated GECOM Commissioners, which would have seen election activities being run concurrently and concluded within 60 days. I wish to also remind that the 2015 General and Regional Elections was completed within 71 days of Parliament being dissolved on February 28, 2019.
The logical and simplest way, using a time-tested method, is a move to a Claims and Objections exercise, which would kick off once the Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) is extracted from the NRRDB and published.
There is now one question that must be answered. Are the PNC-led coalition Government-nominated GECOM Commissioners, apart from protecting a political interest, some pecuniary interest? Is this the reason that they are actively pushing for constitutionally mandated elections to be delayed further?
I dare say, it is time for the international community to focus their attention more closely on elements within the GECOM Secretariat, given what is at stake – Guyana’s standing as a constitutional democracy.