While the People‘s Progressive Party /Civic, (PPP/C) has been lobbying for elections in the shortest possible time, PPP appointed Commissioner, Sase Gunraj believes that the current methods undertaken by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to prepare for the elections will undermine that objective.
Giving the media an update on the preparation process yesterday outside GECOM headquarters in Kingston, Gunraj expressed frustration at the length of time it is taking staff of the Commission to put the data obtained at the recently concluded house- to -house registration process into the Commission’s database.
Gunraj lamented that what should have been a pretty simple and straight forward task is taking more time than estimated.
“As you know, a lot of consideration has been given to the use of the data obtained in recently concluded house -to -house registration. Any use of that data will depend on the encoding of that data.
“I believe that just about half the records have been encoded (placed in the GECOM database). The timeline for encoding of records as presented to the Commission was the 15th September for conclusion. Today is the 17th so we are already two days behind schedule,” the PPP Commissioner added.
As such, Gunraj said that he finds the timeline by GECOM is now a source of contention.
“You can recall me saying here weeks ago that I did not trust that timeline because my understanding of it is that it will not take the time, they are saying. That has led me to believe that all of the timelines that are prepared and presented by the (GECOM) Secretariat are not to be trusted because those timelines are prepared with a view of subverting us into a decision, and once you are locked in that decision, then you are bound by the overruns of time that may arise…” the commissioner said.
Gunraj also noted that the Opposition will not change its position on the merging of the list garnered from house to house with the electoral list that is already in place.
“We are of the view that the decision to merge the list is what is taking this time, so we will not concede on that point,” Gunraj added, while enforcing his party’s position that regional and general elections should have already been held.
“We can go to a claims and objections period starting tomorrow because we have asked members of the secretariat to make a decision on that.
“Unfortunately, we have not come to any realistic timelines for the holding of elections because all of these delays have been occasioned by the discussion of merging of lists,” he said.
Meanwhile, Government appointed Commissioner Vincent Alexander told the media that the Commission is scheduled to meet again today.
“We will be meeting to finalise a work programme for elections.”
Asked about the process of encoding the data, Alexander said that he could not say how much of the data that was already encoded.
“I don’t know the numbers, but I know that they have been working three shifts and we have enough encoders to utilise all the equipment we have available to complete the process.”
Alexander nonetheless admitted that there has been a slippage as it regards to meeting the timeline for completing the encoding of data.
The Commissioner said that the secretariat is exploring parallel methods of integrating the data.
He said that the Commission is hoping to finalise the election work programme so as to give the President a prospective time for the elections to be held.
The push for early elections was brought on by a successful no-confidence vote against the Coalition Government last December.
The vote, challenged and deemed legal in the courts, has necessitated early elections according to law, but the administration insists that GECOM has to advise it on its readiness so that the President can dissolve Parliament and fix a date.
In a statement Monday, President David Granger insisted that he is awaiting advice from GECOM.
In his address to the nation, President Granger said the Elections Commission has exclusive and explicit responsibility for the conduct of general and regional elections in accordance with the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (at Article 62).
According to Granger, the Constitution (at Article 162 (1) I) states, further, that: “…The Elections Commission shall have such functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections…”
He reiterated that the Elections Commission is insulated from political influence, instruction or interference and its independence is safeguarded by the Constitution.
“The independence of the Commission and the integrity of the electoral process are essential to ensuring elections which express the will of the electorate. I am committed to providing governmental assistance to the Commission to ensure that the forthcoming elections will not be contaminated by mismanagement or malpractice.”
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