Guyana elections could be held in March next year

Joseph Harmon

GEORGETOWN – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will meet this to discuss a proposal that the fresh regional and general election as mandated by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) be held in March next year.

One of the three government appointed GECOM commissioner, Vincent Alexander, said that there’s nothing definitive about the proposal that had been presented by the GECOM Secretariat.

He said that the commission will meet to discuss the way forward and that while the proposal had been made, there has been no consensus between the two political sides represented on the commission.

“I have no major contention with those timelines but we, as I said, in a consensual mood were looking at the activities which are not statutory to see how they could be curtailed,” he said.

Director general of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon said political players should allow the elections body to carry out the functions they are being paid to do.

But the opposition members on the commission said the proposal could not be accepted and reiterated the call for the polls to be held as early as possible.

“We have now at least four proposals from the Secretariat which suggests that the elections will be held in March next year. We are opposed to that situation, we are insisting that we be on par with the Constitution imperatives, we advise that the house to house registration is incomplete . . . and that there should only be minimal use of the data from the house to house registration to identify persons who are first time registrants,” the opposition commissioner, Robeson Benn, said.

The CCJ, which is the country’s highest court in July ruled that the vote of no confidence passed last December against the David Granger government was valid, but it could not insist on the polls being held on any specific date for the election and instead urged all stakeholders to work within the Guyana Constitution to ensure the polls are held.

Under the Guyana Constitution, the elections should take place 90 days after the vote of no confidence is passed. The Constitution also makes provision for an extension of the period based only on a two-thirds majority vote in the Parliament.

The opposition has also said the planned merger of data from the house to house registration of voters will not improve the quality or “credibility” of the database, but rather it will further contaminate the National Register of Registrants (NRRDB) and cause further delays in the holding of the elections.

GECOM had earlier announced that the house to house registration exercise would come to an end on August 31 and that, based on the ruling of the High Court on August 14,the house to house registration was neither unlawful nor unconstitutional and the data garnered from that registration exercise must be merged with the existing NRRDB.