It would appear that the long-anticipated and NCM-mandated general and regional elections will be held sooner, rather than later, and quite possibly before the end of the year. Last Friday, the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Elections Commission announced the simultaneous preparation for elections and the immediate commencement of house-to-house registration that would create a new National Register of Registrants (NRR) from which an Official List of Electors (OLE) will be extracted for the purpose of conducting general and regional elections.
The previous list had expired on April 30th, 2019 and the Commission, then led by Chairman Justice J. Patterson, voted to adopt this process which had previously been a demand of the PPP/C following its defeat at the 2015 elections.
The Patterson-led Commission had, prior to the CCJ handing down its consequential orders on July 12 last, advised the President that elections could not be held earlier than December 2019, and the CCJ, in spite of the PPP/C’s demand that it overrule this advice and order the President to proclaim a date for elections by September 18, 2019, refused to do so. Instead, the CCJ stipulated that it was for the President, Parliament and GECOM to decide on the issue.
The President has always recognized that Article 62 of the Constitution mandates that “Elections shall be independently supervised by the Elections Commission in accordance with the provisions of article 162” and has made clear that it is for GECOM to advise him of its earliest readiness to deliver credible elections.
The Opposition Leader, for his part, seems to be determined to frustrate this process by protests and threatened legal action against the CEO of the GECOM Secretariat for implementing the decisions of the Commission, as well as threats to pursue international condemnation and sanctions.
This policy is further exemplified by the patently false claim that the CCJ found that the President had breached the Constitution in the appointment of Justice Patterson to the Chairmanship of GECOM and can, therefore, be removed from office for the violation of the Constitution.
The fact is that the CCJ had concluded that the process that resulted in that appointment, specifically the unilateral determination of the list of 6 candidates by the Opposition Leader, was flawed and in breach of the constitution; the unilateral submission of that list by the Opposition Leader and subsequent unilateral appointment by the President were not disputed by the CCJ and, therefore, the President did not breach the constitution.
The correct constitutional procedure, as stipulated by the CCJ, requires the involvement of the President in the nomination of candidates for the position of GECOM Chairman, along with the Opposition Leader.
Failure to respect, or to frustrate, the ruling of the CCJ and other disruptive actions can only impede and disrupt the march to general and regional elections that is widely welcomed.
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