PPP to push for international action against GECOM

The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has said it intends to push for international action against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) following the vote to inform President David Granger that elections cannot be held in 90 days as constitutionally mandated.
The PPP said the time is opportune for international action – as was needed in 1990 to ensure constitutional compliance. The Party is referring to the intervention of former United States (US) President Jimmy Carter which saw the return of free and fair elections in 1992.
As was the case then, Guyana is faced with a situation where GECOM is dominated by the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), the Party said in a statement. According to the PPP, this puts the democratic gains that have been made over the past two decades in Guyana at great risk.
“We call on all Guyanese, as well as the international community, to condemn the PNCR’s call for “war” and GECOM’s complicity in the violation of our Constitution,” the Party statement read.
The Opposition party feels the country is heading into a constitutional crisis based on the actions taken by GECOM and the Government. It said President David Granger will be held solely responsible for this and the attendant negative consequences for the Guyanese people.
Only Tuesday, GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson used his deciding vote and sided with Government Commissioners to pass a motion that new elections could not be held in 90 days as constitutionally mandated. The second issue that was voted on and passed had to do with funding for elections, and the third was for GECOM to return to normalcy.
But while this is happening, the international community has been paying close attention to these developments. As such, the US Embassy had written GECOM on behalf of itself and other Western countries including Britain, Canada and the European Union (EU) for a meeting.
That meeting, according to one of the Commissioners, is scheduled to take place on Thursday at GECOM. This will mark the second time that these Western countries will be meeting with GECOM, the last meeting was held around January month-end.
Representatives from The Cater Center have also met with GECOM, and officials from both Government and the Opposition on the same issues.

The PPP has said GECOM is subservient to the Constitution of Guyana, not the other way around. The Party is also of the view that the situation at GECOM, with this sort of action, will undoubtedly guarantee that Guyana is pushed towards a constitutional crisis.
It said GECOM’s refusal to begin preparations for General and Regional Elections, after the December 21, 2018 vote on the No-confidence Motion, finds it complicit in frustrating the timeline for the constitutionally due elections.
Additionally, the PPP pointed out that there has been no effort to make a decision on what obtains in the short-term. There has also been no decision at the level of the Commission on when GECOM will be ready for elections.
As it relates to funding, the PPP is of the view that this is the latest hurdle thrown up by the Government-influenced parties at GECOM. The first hurdle introduced was the call for new house-to-house registration – which it said has been exposed as unnecessary at this time.
“The People’s Progressive Party maintains that the laws of Guyana are clear on funding for constitutional agencies like GECOM. Act 4 of 2015 – the Fiscal Management and Accountability (Amendment) Act 2015, Section 80B (8) – makes it clear that: “The appropriation of a constitutional agency approved by the National Assembly shall be disbursed as a lump sum by the end of the month, following the month in which the appropriation was approved.”
Section 80B (7) of the same act states that: “The annual budget of a constitutional agency approved by the National Assembly shall not be altered without prior approval of the National Assembly.” This section clearly prohibits the Finance Minister from altering the appropriation to GECOM, as he is empowered to do with the appropriations of non-constitutional agencies, but does not prevent GECOM from utilising the “lump sum” as it sees fit to carry out its functions.