The three Government-nominated commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) have taken issue with the commissioners appointed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), over attempts they made to have GECOM’s secretariat start early preparations for elections.
In a letter to Kaieteur News, Commissioners Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman, have accused Commissioners Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn of attempting to intimidate the secretariat into action for which it has not been given a directive.
The Opposition appointed commissioners had issued a missive calling on GECOM to “immediately start preparations for elections”.
The Government appointed commissioners wrote, “In the first instance, they [Shadick, Gunraj and Benn] know that the Secretariat was given a directive to do all in its powers to acquire materials and to undertake non-statutory activities in preparation for elections, albeit the date was still determined.”
They continued, “Statutory activities, like preparation for elections, could only be undertaken if a date for elections has been determined and/or the relevant directive [has been] given to the Chief Elections Officer.”
Hence, the commissioners asked, “So what are they calling for, apart from intending to intimidate the Secretariat into action for which it has not been given a directive?”
The letter stressed that Shadick, Gunraj and Benn already know of the fact that GECOM requested supplementary funding for the early conduct of elections and that the National Assembly acceded to the request, granting those funds without protest.
The letter added that, even in this process, the Opposition refused to attend Parliament when the appropriation was being discussed.
The main concern, the letter stated, should be the need for a GECOM Chairman. That matter is still being ironed out by the President and the Opposition Leader. It is unclear when the selection will be completed.
Alexander, Corbin and Trotman described the attempts by the Opposition aligned commissioners as a “cockeyed” one to intimidate Lowenfield into action without basis or authority.
The request made by Shadick, Gunraj and Benn had also been made by former Attorney General and PPP stalwart, Anil Nandlall, in a letter to Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield.
In that letter, Nandlall noted that on the July 12, 2019, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) delivered orders made consequential to its decisions rendered on June 18, 2019, in the matters of Zulifikar Mustapha vs AG and Others; Christopher Ram vs AG and Others; Bharrat Jagdeo vs AG and Others and Charandass Peraud vs Compton Reid and Others.
Nandlall pointed to the CCJ rulings which stemmed from the December 21, 2018 No Confidence motion in the National Assembly which saw the Coalition Government fall.
Nandlall stressed the caveat of Article 106 as the basis for the Opposition’s request for immediate election preparation. The article notes a protocol to be followed in the event that a No Confidence motion is validly passed.
Part of that article states that Government should hold elections within three months of the motion’s passing, or longer, as the National Assembly allows through a vote of at least two-thirds of its members.
Nandlall stressed that the court in speaking on the provisions of Article 106 of the Constitution of Guyana said that, “their meaning is clear and it is the responsibility of Constitutional actors in Guyana to honour them.”
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