Feb 05, 2019 News
While he is of the opinion that the voters’ list is clean and valid, with a life until the 30th of April, Chief Elections Officer, (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Keith Lowenfield says that it is ultimately up to the Commission to decide whether the list is ready for General and Regional Elections.
Lowenfield spoke to the press on GECOM’s preparedness for general elections following a meeting of Commissioners held at the Secretariat in Kingston yesterday.
The meeting was scheduled to discuss the possible timeline for elections.
The move for early elections comes on the heels of a court decision, which validated the no-confidence motion passed against the Government, in the National Assembly on December 21, 2018.
The ruling set in motion the constitutional provision for an election within the period of 90 days.
However, based on the discussion put forward, Lowenfield noted that it is likely that the elections date will be extended beyond the 90-day period, which is set to expire on March 19.
In the interim, Lowenfield said “A lot of factors are up for consideration, for instance house-to-house registration.
Are we going have 400 additional sub-offices or are we going to have 200 locations for house-to-house registration?”
“The Commission will also have to decide whether we will be in the fields for four months. And if we are in the field for four months, we must do training to ensure we have a competent staff to execute.”
According to Lowenfield, based on the timelines being put forward by GECOM’s Secretariat, it will be unlikely for elections to be held before July 2019.
“The Secretariat’s work is guided or directed by the Commission, the secretariat cannot move forward with the conduct of an elections unless the commission decides that we will have a claims and objections period, for example, for seven, nine, or ten days.”
The CEO told the media that yesterday’s meeting commissioners was mainly for work-plans of the Operations Sub-Committee to be discussed.
He disclosed that the Operations Sub-Committee is expected to meet again this morning, ahead of another discussion scheduled for 2:00 pm today.
Meanwhile, PPP Commissioners Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome of yesterday’s meeting.
“In my view, there is no other consideration that one could arrive at, but that GECOM itself, at the level of the secretariat, is complicit in this problem. Either they have to be taking instructions out of fear or complicity, deliberately so, or they in themselves do not want to see these activities unfold as constitutionally mandated,” Benn said, adding that he believes that some of the activities could be eliminated to achieve the March 19 deadline.
He stressed too that there is need for less training, especially since the staff had undergone training for the Local Government Elections held on November 12 last.
PNC-nominated Commissioner, Charles Corbin, on the other hand, said the Commission must take guidance from the Secretariat. He said the secretariat has submitted its work plan.
“There is a reason why we would need to put all the information we have together, because clearly there will be questions based on our discussions today (yesterday).”
He noted too that if one should reflect on a few years when the Elections Commission found itself facing a similar scenario — the timeline given then was about six months.
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