The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the largest party of the coalition Government – is backing the move by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to begin House-to-House Registration today – a move which is in flagrant violation of the Guyana Constitution and the rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The party made its position known on Friday at a press conference hosted at Congress Place, Sophia, Georgetown.
Communities Minister and Treasurer of the PNC, Ronald Bulkan said that the party “welcomes the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM’s) independent decision to commence House-to-House Registration starting tomorrow, Saturday 20th July 2019. This decision is completely consistent with both the Constitution and the CCJ’s ruling that we need to hold fair and credible elections in the shortest possible time”.
This is although the Trinidad-based Court ordered that Article 106 (6) and (7) of the Constitution be upheld and respected, bearing in mind that the No-Confidence Motion against the Government was passed as long as December 21, 2018.
Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence”.
Meanwhile Article 107 (7) states: “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election”
Nevertheless, the caretaker Government is contending that House-to-House Registration must be conducted given that as much as 200,000 names on the present voters’ list are not eligible.
According to Bulkan, while his party “respects” the CCJ’s ruling, House-to-House Registration should take precedence over early elections.
The Communities Minister further argued that the last voters’ list used for Local Government Elections has already expired while a Claims and Objections period will not be successful in updating that list.
Ever since the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that the No-Confidence Motion was validly passed, the Administration has been accused of “buying time” to remain in power.
In fact, even after the CCJ ruled on the validity of the motion, the Government has employed several delaying tactics and even made utterances which defied the court judgment.
GECOM’s own legal officer, Excellence Dazzell, had advised the Commission that proceeding with House-to-House Registration would be in contempt of court.
Going ahead with this lengthy registration process would result in elections being held until after September 18, 2019 – which would have marked the end of the three-month constitutional deadline for elections.
Only on Thursday, Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo warned that attempts to pursue House-to-House Registration instead of elections would be in defiance of the pronouncements made by the CCJ.
His statement comes at a time when it was recently published in the Official Gazette that GECOM announced House-to-House Registration, commencing July 20, 2019, which will run until October. Though it was signed by the former GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, since June 11, the Gazette was only recently made public. Patterson’s appointment to the position of GECOM Chairman has since been ruled by the CCJ as unconstitutional.