Aug 16, 2019 News
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is awaiting the written decision of the Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, to determine the way forward as it relates to the holding of general elections.
Following a special meeting at GECOM Headquarters in Kingston, Georgetown, Government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander told media personnel that “the way forward was not determined, because we are not recipients of the decision of the Judge and there are those of us who would not prefer to rely on reports and third-hand information.”
He explained that upon receipt and perusal of the document, a meeting will be convened to determine the way forward, and the President will be advised accordingly. This is expected to conclude at the next statutory meeting slated for next Tuesday.
According to Alexander, discussions of the special meeting of GECOM Commissioners and Chairman of the Commission, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh held yesterday surrounded the status of house-to-house registration, training and general plans for elections.
He told the media that so far, over 230,000 persons have been registered in the ongoing exercise.
Alexander noted that he still supports house-to-house registration as the only “available means to clean the list.” He said a period of claims and objections, which was suggested by the Chief Justice in her ruling, cannot perform that function.
The GECOM Commissioner noted too that preparation for the elections will commence with the training of election officials from tomorrow, August 17.
Alexander said too that the Commission has also commenced the procurement of election materials.
“Much has been done in terms of the orders for the non-essential and some essential elections material. So the orders are out there, even in some instances, payments have been made, and it’s a question of delivery.”
Additionally, Alexander said that a decision was taken for the Chief Elections Officer (CEO) to present the Commission with the possible scenarios for the delivery of elections.
On Wednesday, Chief Justice George noted that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) acted within the remit of the powers invested to it under the laws. She declared that the current house-to-house registration exercise embarked upon by the Commission is legal.
In her ruling, Justice George held that not only is GECOM a constitutional creature, it is also an independent body and the court cannot interfere with the manner in which it executes its function, unless it is found to be unconstitutional.
Justice George delivered judgment in a challenge mounted by Attorney-at-law Christopher Ram who had petitioned the High Court for a Conservatory Order prohibiting GECOM from conducting or continuing to conduct the current house-to-house registration process, which he deemed unconstitutional.
Ram had also sought another Conservatory Order compelling GECOM, immediately to take all steps and actions necessary and requisite to hold General and Regional Elections on or before the September 18.
Ram sought the order on the basis that the current registration exercise and failure to hold elections by September 18 would be in violation of Article 106 (6) and (7) of the Constitution and also the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in the No-Confidence Motion appeals.
“I don’t see how the house-to-house registration exercise violates Article 106 (6) and (7).
The CEO (Chief Elections Officer) of GECOM has no role to play in relation to Article 106 (6) and in regards to Article 106 (7) GECOM could conduct the house-to-house registration or any other verification in the circumstance following the No-Confidence Motion,” said Chief Justice George.
There is nothing in the Elections Law (Amendment) Act (ELA) or the National Registration Act (NRA), which suggest that the registration exercise was unconstitutional.
According to Justice George, since GECOM is an independent body it can conduct house-to-house registration, as a means provided to it for verification of the list of voters to compile the Official List of Electors.
The Chief Justice asserted that the laws allow for house-to-house registration as a verification exercise based on the ELA and NRA. She said that these Acts make provisions for the house-to-house registration process and for persons to visit their district registration office to be registered. She said the Acts provide for eligible voters to be registered and persons attaining the age 14 by a specified date to be issued with national identification cards.
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