We wouldn’t know where it came from, because it is expected the GECOM Chairperson and the commissioners will not divulge who the source was of the initial suggestion that GECOM should read the actual judgement of the Chief Justice (CJ) before making a decision on house-to-house registration. But my guess is the chairperson herself.
Anyone who lived in Guyana since two court cases began – the no-confidence vote and the unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson as GECOM’s chair – would know that the president of Guyana has given some unusual interpretations to the deliveries of the court. I suspect that the chairperson said something like this; “Let us avoid this or that meaning to this or that word and look at the actual wording of the Chief Justice.”
Anyone who believes that there would have been no confusion if the Commission had moved on with what was reported in the media is extremely naïve. My take is once GECOM had made a pronouncement on what the CJ said, we would have seen huge confusion scenes and court writs being filed. We will avoid that on Monday, because each commissioner and the Chairperson will have the judgment in black and white (or maybe the office attendant will photocopy it in colour).
I think the reason for the request of the court’s written word is centred on the contents of the past database of electors who voted in the 2015 general poll. It stands to reason if those voters are still allowed to vote, even if they are not on the new list currently being compiled by the house-to-house registration, then maybe it is wise to retain the old database and add and subtract from it.
I believe the Chairperson wants to see what is actually said by the CJ on the right of persons to vote, even if they were not registered on the new list. If the CJ decided that it is unconstitutional to disallow a person to vote who has been registered before 2019 and who voted in 2015, then I am afraid the current house-to-house registration should not be allowed to continue if it impinges on the timeline for early elections.
My position is that Guyana should have had a general election in March of this year, and because of the delay, should have it next month. But September looks untenable, so Guyanese should proceed to vote as early as possible after September. One way of ensuring that election which is long overdue, is to use the current database, which formed the basis of the local government poll in November last year. Time must be allowed for claims and objections and the adding of names.
Could the house-to-house registration impinge on an early poll? My opinion is yes. But if it is vital and necessary then let’s proceed with it but there is the alternative. You could hold a credible election with the current database, adding and subtracting. What is wrong with that? All Guyanese are in a guessing mode now that the role of GECOM has replaced the role of the president in deciding when in the current calendar year or next, we go to the polls.
One thing is certain. If we continue with documenting voters, then voting is until next year. No one could possibly be so foolish to think that all Guyanese over 18 have to be registered and after that there has to be checks on the compilation, and with all that we could vote in 2019. It is not possible.
So I will guess like all Guyanese are doing. I am seeing an election before 2019 ends, the reason being a valid no-confidence motion was passed. A civilised country must recognise that, observe the constitution, and proceed to do what is legal and constitutional – have a general election.
Here is why there wasn’t a general election in March and there will not be one in September. The APNU+AFC leadership decided since December 21, 2018, that they will stall the project. They have used two stratagems – tie up in the issues in court and use maximum delay.
It is this writer’s inflexible opinion that President Granger’s insistence that he should provide the Opposition Leader with a list of names to be considered for the GECOM chairperson was an example of maximum delay. When he thought that the delay had outlived its life, he accepted the Carter formula.
I could never accept what APNU+AFC did since December 21, 2018, because it wasn’t the PPP that stood to lose from the ensuing instability, but the country I live in.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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