Jul 24, 2019 News Comments Off on Chief Justice refuses to halt house-to-house registration pending further evidence
Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram, has failed in his bid to secure a Conservatory Order against the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to stop the house-to-house registration process which commenced last week Saturday. This programme is scheduled to end in another three months’ time.
Chief Justice Roxane George, yesterday, in refusing to grant the order said, that she was not satisfied based on the evidence in the affidavit that GECOM is not acting to complete the registration process to hold elections by the September 18 constitutional timeframe, Ram’s lawyer Anil Nandlall told reporters outside the courtroom.
According to Nandlall, “The Chief Justice did not grant the Conservatory Order which we sought to restrain the registration process. But significantly the Chief Justice emphasized that she understands that the CCJ ruled that the elections must be held by September 18 in accordance with Articles 106 and 107 of the Constitution.”
Furthermore, Nandlall said that Justice George said that she wants more evidence to persuade her that the registration exercise will take elections beyond that timeframe. By the end of yesterday, Nandlall indicated that he would be filing another affidavit in which he will lay out the evidence to support his contention that the registration exercise will collide with, and go way beyond the timeframe “which the Chief Justice said for the holding of elections is September 18.”
Ram has listed Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, Commissioner of National Registration; GECOM; and Attorney General Basil Williams as the Respondents in his challenge. The Respondents and the Guyana Bar Association which was granted permission by the Chief Justice to be a party in the case, were given until month end to file written submissions with the court.
The Chief Justice has agreed to hear arguments on the constitutionality of the process which is set to begin on Friday, August 2 at the High Court in Demerara.
Nandlall, a former Attorney General, is convinced that the house-to-house registration process will go past that timeframe.
He stated, “They (GECOM) are constructing a new list because they are saying that the list is bad. There is no way that this exercise starting…from citizen number one to citizen number seven hundred and fifty thousand can be concluded for the holding of an election by September 18.”
He added, “Remember this list has to be compiled then there has to be Claims and Objections to the list itself. Of course it has to be extracted from the National Register to the Voter’s List. Then the Claims and Objections then you have to train staff and everything for elections.”
“By what process of logic can that ever be concluded by September 18?”
It is Nandlall’s stance that GECOM cannot scrap the register because it will be deregistering people from voting; persons who are qualified now to vote. He says the process will remove eligible voters who are currently overseas.
Nandlall’s view, however, is in contrast with that of the government. In fact, President David Granger has emphasized the need for house-to-house registration to create a credible list of electors for the impending elections.
The President was earlier reported as saying, “We’ve already gone to parliament to get money for GECOM; we are committed to house-to-house registration. The old list is invalid, expired and is corrupted, so we are doing everything we have been advised by GECOM.”
In the meantime, the PPP has encouraged its supporters to boycott the registration process. Ram, through a newspaper ad, said that he, too, will not be participating in the house-to-house registration. (Feona Morrison)
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