PPP GECOM Commissioners slam continued foot-dragging

General and Regional Elections

…say despite urgency, GECOM “moving further away from elections”
…proposal for producing ID cards has maximum 140-day timeframe

Following another afternoon in meeting, Opposition-nominated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioners contended that their time was spent on further fruitless discussions, with no decision as to the way forward being made.

GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj

Immediately after Tuesday’s statutory meeting, Opposition-nominated Commissioner Sase Gunraj gave some insight into what was discussed. According to Gunraj, the production of identification (ID) cards was placed on the agenda. However, he said that these proposals could delay elections by months.
“Wasted day… we are nowhere closer to the decisions of holding elections. We sat down and dealt with lots of irrelevant discussions, I believe, to holding credible elections in a timely manner. We have failed to come to any meaningful discussions. The proposals that are coming are all very lengthy processes”.
“We’re hearing about production of ID cards now. The smallest timeframe provided by secretariat is 92 days. And it goes all the way to 140 days. While those are overlapping events, those are things that will take a long time. And all the courts have spoken about the necessity of elections. I don’t believe we have to worry about the issue of production of ID cards at this time,” Gunraj said.
Asked directly if Jamaica is a potential location for producing the ID cards, Gunraj did not confirm or deny. There was also no decision on cross matching House-to-House data. According to Gunraj, a timeframe for Claims and Objections was not even discussed.

Commissioner Robeson Benn

This is despite Chairperson Claudette Singh ordering that extended Claims and Objections will follow the production of a Preliminary List of Electors, after she had made the decision to quash House-to-House registration last week.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Robeson Benn did not mince words as he criticised the meeting for not being fruitful. He made it clear that he considered today’s meeting a waste of time and more attempts at foot-dragging.
“There are no updates. There is no appetite in my view at GECOM for the holding of elections. Every ruse, every resort, every stratagem is being employed to further delay elections,” Benn said.
According to his counterpart Bibi Shadick, GECOM was moving further away from elections. However, Government-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander contended that these are necessary steps before timelines can be laid down.

Govt Commissioner Vincent Alexander

“The discussions are ongoing. They are centred around things that are very technical. Decisions have not yet been made. We have not finalised timelines. We’re trying to settle some principles. Once those are settled, then we’ll define timelines based on proposals from the secretariat”.
GECOM’s next meeting is scheduled for Friday at 11:00h. It will be the latest in a long line of meetings at GECOM that have seemingly led nowhere. Last week, it had been revealed by Shadick that a team from GECOM, which included Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers and the Information Technology Manager, were in Jamaica observing the process of cross matching fingerprints. It has subsequently been reported that printing ID cards in Jamaica is being considered.
She had explained that they have to return, after which, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield will prepare a plan proposing the timeframe to merge the data with the register. According to Shadick, this plan would have been discussed by the Commission and if necessary, further decisions will be taken.
Reports indicate that during the House-to-House exercise, the only political party that supervised the enumerators was the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was not even invited.
The fact that the data was obtained at a time when the PPP played no part in supervising the enumerators has long been cited by the party as reason to doubt the credibility of the exercise and the possible contamination of the entire National Register of Registrars.