…says “too much time has passed already”
Citing delay tactics, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Opposition has called for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to commence preparations for the hosting of General and Regional Elections, saying that too much time has passed already.
In a statement on Thursday, the PPP pointed out that since the appointment of Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh as Chair, GECOM has had over four meetings and yet it is nowhere closer to starting preparations for what was supposed to be early elections.
“Too much time has passed already. The party stresses the call for GECOM to begin preparations for elections now,” the missive stated.
According to the PPP, it seems as though the Constitution of Guyana and the rulings of the courts are secondary in the considerations of GECOM. It reminded that the Constitution remains the supreme law of the land and that GECOM has a responsibility to uphold it.
Moreover, the party drew attention to the fact that the country’s apex court – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – on July 12, 2019, made clear that elections should have been held since March 21, 2019, that is, three months after the successful December passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) which toppled the coalition Government.
The CCJ made clear that “The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has the responsibility to conduct that election and GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution”.
This point, the PPP noted, was reiterated on August 14, 2019, by Chief Justice, Roxane George.
“The Guyanese people have a constitutional right that must be respected. Our Constitution must be respected. Our democratic standing cannot be diminished. Elections preparations must commence now,” the Opposition stated.
According to the PPP, preparations for elections must commence with the production of a Preliminary List of Electors (PLE) from the National Register of Registrants (NRR).
However, the party said it recognises the delay tactics being directed by the APNU/AFC coalition Government. It said that the Government-nominated GECOM Commissioners continue to push for the merger of unverified – and probably padded – data garnered from the now-scrapped House-to-House Registration, with the National Register of Registrants.
“They have a complicit partner at the Secretariat of GECOM, as is evidenced by the production of timelines for election activities that accord with the APNU/AFC coalition’s position on elections in 2020 – despite the fact that elections should have been held since March 21, 2019,” the PPP asserted.
The Opposition party went on to say that its position has been repeated ad nauseam, that is, the data garnered from the now-scrapped House-to-House exercise must not be used to contaminate the National Register of Registrants. It insisted that the Preliminary List of Electors must be produced by GECOM, and that the elections body must move to Claims and Objections (C&O), which is a time-tested method, to allow for persons who are first-time voters to be registered, among other transactions.
With regards to the production of re-designed national identification (ID) cards, the PPP contended that this is “wholly unnecessary” at this point in time and is just another tactic designed to delay the elections.
“The history of the matter is well known; a national identification card is not necessary to vote, since other means of identification can be used,” the party stated.
It reminded that the European Union (EU), in its 2001 Observer report, said: “In 1998 Esther Pereira, a PNC supporter, petitioned the High Court to set aside the results of the 1997… Justice Claudette Singh found that the requirement for voters to have a voter ID card in 1997 was ultra vires Articles 59 and 159 of the Constitution (despite a parliamentary agreement to use the cards). Consequently, the elections were therefore null and void.”
Furthermore, the Opposition turned its attention to the cross-matching of fingerprints of the 370,822 persons GECOM claims to have registered during the now-scrapped House-to-House Registration, which was brought to a premature end by the Elections Commission.
According to the PPP, it stirs up more concerns.
“The purpose of this time-consuming and costly exercise is to try to identify the new registrants, which could easily be done otherwise. However, it will not identify where padding occurs. Cross-matching of fingerprints will only ascertain where there are cases of duplicates. And in any case, cross-matching of the fingerprints will have to be done upon the completion of the Claims and Objections period,” the Opposition party noted.
Nevertheless, GECOM will continue with another meeting today. After the last meeting on Tuesday, the PPP-nominated GECOM Commissioners said their time was being spent on further fruitless discussions, which is moving them further away from the hosting of elections.