Home Top Stories PPP requests suspension of all GECOM statutory meetings until CCJ ruling
…says Govt has no intentions of holding elections this year
…as no mention of funds for GECOM on National Assembly’s order paper – Commissioner
The fact that the order paper for the April 26 sitting of the National Assembly has been sent out with no mention of any funds being sought for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has not gone unnoticed by the Opposition.
In an interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday, GECOM Commissioner Bibi Shadick expressed concern over this telling omission. She noted that this was despite Government promising to put GECOM’s funding on the parliamentary agenda at the next sitting.
“Interestingly, and I pointed this out at our meeting today, the President had promised one of the first things on his parliamentary agenda was to get funds in the amount of $3.5 billion to GECOM. The order paper has no such thing on it. I said until we know the tasks that we have to follow, meetings should be held until after the decision.
“I am certain the Minister of Finance doesn’t have $3.5 billion to give for any election. So, the game is being played and I won’t be a part of it. Basically, the Government is saying we don’t have to have an election in 2019. We will have elections in 2020.”
Meanwhile, a statutory meeting set for Tuesday at GECOM ended abruptly, with People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated Commissioners requesting such meetings be put on hold until the no-confidence motion-related matters were adjudicated.
On Tuesday, the statutory stalemate continued as PPP Commissioners walked out and the GECOM meeting was adjourned. Speaking to this publication afterwards, Commissioner Shadick revealed that GECOM has no plan that catered for not holding house-to-house registration.
That very house-to-house registration exercise is currently before the courts, as a United Kingdom and Guyanese citizen has filed a legal challenge against it. In her affidavit, she had argued that the exercise would disenfranchise her and many others.
This had come after GECOM was warned to desist from house-to-house registration or face the law. Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall subsequently filed legal proceedings against the Commission.
In the legal documents seen by this newspaper and filed by Nandlall on behalf of his client, Bibi Zeenatoun, Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield and GECOM are named as respondents.
In the fixed date application, the former AG sets out that the house-to-house registration was unconstitutional. It is noted that they are seeking a declaration of this and the fact that the exercise will exclude qualified registrants currently on the National Register and the official list of electors.
In particular, the application is seeking a declaration that Zeenatoun herself will be excluded and thus, have her constitutional right to vote breached. But with this case before them, Shadick noted that GECOM seemed to be making no effort to steer away from house-to-house registration.
“Because they’re not making any moves to refresh the list that is going to become invalid on the 30th of this month. So from the first of May we have no valid list of electors. So, everything has to wait to the end of house-to-house registration, whenever that is. They have no start date for this exercise.”
Nevertheless, Shadick noted that GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice James Patterson has insisted meetings would continue to be called.
The no-confidence motion-related cases, whose outcome would determine if Guyana is to have early elections or not, will not be heard by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) until May 10. Meanwhile, the current list of voters expires this month end. GECOM has previously said house-to-house registration would not start until June.