PPP Commissioner expresses no confidence in GECOM Secretariat timelines
– to propose timetable for elections today
– GECOM to advise President after today’s meeting
– as life of Govt expires today
After yet another marathon meeting at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday, it turns out that the entity has made little progress in narrowing down a timeframe to hold national elections.
However, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) nominated Commissioners will be taking matters into their own hands at the next meeting scheduled for today. Commissioner Sase Gunraj revealed that they will present a proposed plan of their own for early elections.
“As we are speaking today, we have not come to any realistic timeline for the holding of elections… the discussion on [merging the data] is what is taking this time. We could have gone to Claims and Objections starting [today], because we have asked members of the Secretariat to get information on that.”
“If we made a decision today, we could go to Claims and Objections and start moving this process forward. Unfortunately, all of this discussion and delay is because of discussions about merging… I have undertaken to present a timeframe of my own. So I’m optimistic that that will be adopted.”
Gunraj also expressed a lack of confidence in the timelines that are being prepared and presented by the GECOM Secretariat to the Commission. He said that less than half of the registrants’ data have been encoded, despite the exercise starting last month.
The Commissioner also noted that these delays contradict GECOM’s earlier deadline for completing the encoding of data, which he said was supposed to be since September 15. Gunraj made it clear that he is dissatisfied with the pace in which GECOM is working.
“As we speak today, I believe that only [approximately] 200,000 records were encoded. The timeline presented to us by the commission was September 15 for conclusion. As you know, we are at September 17. And the Secretariat is saying we will require three weeks.”
“You will recall me saying weeks ago that I did not trust that timeline. My understanding of it will not take the time they are saying. That has led me to the conclusion that all of the timelines prepared and presented by the Secretariat are not to be trusted,” he said.
Gunraj noted that the Secretariat’s timelines are meant to tie the Commission into a definite decision. He explained that once the Secretariat has decided to embark on a course of action, any timeline extensions have to be endured.
When asked, Government nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander noted that there are three shifts of encoders working to input the House-to-House data. However, he was optimistic that GECOM would even be able to come up with an election timeframe it could present to President David Granger today.
This is the latest of several weeks of meetings, whereby GECOM has been unable to narrow down a definite timeframe for holding elections. President David Granger has repeatedly said he is awaiting the advice of GECOM before naming an election date.
This was repeated in an address to the nation on Monday following a meeting with Carter Center representatives… a meeting during which he promised the organisation not to delay but to act swiftly once GECOM advises him.
During the address, President Granger repeated the substance of previous statements; that GECOM is an independent agency and that he has to await advice from GECOM before he can name an election date.
GECOM’s meeting scheduled for today comes on the very day that the constitutional deadline for holding elections, as set out by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), expires. When it made its July 18 ruling on the no-confidence cases, the CCJ had said that the effect of the No-Confidence Motion was on pause while the cases were being litigated.
That process, CCJ President Adrian Saunders had clearly said, was no longer on pause following the Court’s June 18, 2019 ruling, which upheld the validity of the No-Confidence Motion and thus triggered the need for fresh elections.
In keeping with the constitutional three months’ provision once a No-Confidence Motion is passed, this would mean that General and Regional Elections should be held on or before September 18, 2019.