GECOM to begin house-to-house registration on July 20. 2019

– Opposition Leader says it is illegal according to CCJ orders

There is another development now that is likely to pit the Coalition Government and the Opposition on another collision course.

GECOM, in a recent publication in the Official Gazette, announced that it will start house-to-house registrations from Saturday, July 20, 2019. The exercise is set to conclude on October 20.       

However, Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, last evening was adamant that GECOM cannot go ahead with the house-to-house registrations, which could take months and derail elections which the Opposition wants by September.

The issue has been a thorny one for the political parties.

The Coalition Government, facing early elections after a shocking defeat on the no-confidence vote on December 21, last, has been insisting that the Voters’ List, used in the 2015 elections and Local Government Elections, is filled with the names of dead persons and more than 200,000 incorrect entries.

GECOM’s CEO, Keith Lowenfield

It also claimed that thousands of voters, now of age, would be disenfranchised.
The Coaltion wants the list sanitized by conducting house-to-house registration.

However, the Opposition has been objecting, believing house-to-house registration was but a ploy to delay elections.

The Opposition said that any sanitization can be handled in a claims and objections period.

Last week, with respect to several court cases, the Caribbean Court of Justice ordered that parties adhere to the Constitution which says elections within three months after a government would have faced a successful no-confidence vote.

According to the Order made under the National Registration Act, GECOM said that the order shall come into operation on Saturday, July 20.

“Persons to whom this order applies shall in accordance with Section 6 of the Act, be registered under the process of house to house registration with reference to October 31st and the registration shall begin on July 20th, 2019 and end on October 20th, 2019.”

The order said that it shall apply to all persons who are qualified to be electors and on the qualifying date of October 31st, 2019 shall have attained the age of 14 years.

The order was made on June 11, 2019 by former Chairman, Justice (ret’d) James Patterson.

However, the Opposition Leader was clear last evening about the legality of that order by Patterson who resigned on June 24, days after that order was purportedly made.

According to Jagdeo, the order which suddenly appeared online after the CCJ orders last week, is what the GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, has been using to push for house-to-house registration.

“It was not online; nobody knew about that Gazette notice. There was one on June 14, an addendum of the one of (June)11, about the (electoral) divisions. They kept this (order) quiet, while the cases were awaiting a decision before the CCJ. This only surfaced a few days ago when we saw a copy of it.”

However, Jagdeo said he is not worried.
“They obviously have been busy behind our backs with this order for house-to-house. That order has been overtaken by the orders of the CCJ. GECOM is bound to respect the Constitution of Guyana.”

According to the Opposition Leader, a former president of Guyana whose two terms ended in 2011, this late publication of the Official Gazette, strategically after the CCJ orders, would just shows how duplicitous the Coalition Government is.

“They just did this behind the back of the court. Elections are due in three months in accordance with the Constitution, they told the Court in their presentation that the earliest they will be ready for elections is December 25th. They want to go to house-to-house… clearly house-to-house is not acceptable.”

The Opposition Leader noted that fortunately, the international community has called on all the actors to respect the Constitution and the orders of the Court.

“We are not just gonna accept it. We are clear- the CCJ ruling overtook that order when it says that GECOM must comply with the Constitution and the CCJ enjoined them as a party to the proceedings.”

Kaieteur News has attempted to elicit a comment from GECOM, but was unable to make contact with anyone from the Public Relations department.

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Comments

  • Linda  On July 18, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Sanitization can be handled in a claims and objection manner??? What, after the election happened? Is Jagdeo nuts or just anxious to gain back power? One more month will not make a difference from the September date he wants it to happen. The country needs an updated voters list. One that will give the country a legal government and not one that’s based on a corrupted and flawed list. The government must move forward with this exercise, regardless!!! This is typical Jagdeo politricks.

  • guyaneseonline  On July 18, 2019 at 10:29 pm

    Submitted by Rickford Burke, President, Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID)

    Regional political scientist and pollster, Peter Wickham, was quoted in Demerara Waves news on July 14, 2019, as saying that Guyana’s APNU+AFC coalition government should go to the polls with the current voters which was used in the 2015 when the coalition won. Evidently Peter does not have a sufficiency of knowledge and information to make an informed judgment on the legality and acceptability of the purported voters list. Thus, his pronouncements are therefore misguided in your for the following reasons.

    There is currently no lawful voters list. The list to which you and Guyana’s opposition party, the PPP, have been referring does not exist. It expired on April 30, 2019 by dint of law or legislative fiat.

    The law mandates that such voters list be complied by house to house registration of all citizens who are 18 years and over within an eligible date set out by law. The claims and objections period is not for registration. It is mandated by statute to make corrections to the list that has been compiled through house to house registration. However during this period, person who were absent from there homes during the registration process may present themselves to the designated district office to be registered.

    Elections Commission officials have acknowledged that the names of thousands of persons who have died remain on the expired list. Possibly over 100,000.

    Possibly over 15 thousand young people who turned 18 since the last elections in 2015, and are now eligible to vote, are not on the list. The National Registration Act mandates the government to register the citizens. It doesn’t place the burden on the citizen to go find the relevant office and register or loose their franchise. You should know by now that the opposition is resisting house to house

    registration because it wishes to suppress the youth vote which comprises 56% of the electorate. Young people will vote against the PPP en bloc

    The expired list contains the names of thousands of persons who have moved abroad and are no longer eligible to vote, unless they return to Guyana, establish residency and register. The list also contains thousands of errors in relation to persons who have relocated within Guyana or have married and changed their names.

    The aforementioned demonstrates a list that is unlawful, deeply flawed and bloated, and consequently, unacceptable for credible elections. If the Elections Commission attempts to proceed to elections with said list it will be enjoined by the court from doing so and will encounter significant rebellion from the population.

    Finally, Guyanese are the experts on our voters list and our elections. We should be allowed to make our own decisions in this regard. As a political scientist Peter would know best that one cannot make judgments on a matter without first being proficient on the relevant facts.
    I therefore find his comments appealingly misguided and unenlightened. I hasten to suggest that he becomes more engaged and acquire considerably more facts to make objective and informed commentary on our politics.

    • Linda  On July 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

      I rest my case. Updating of the voters list is a must if a lawful government is to be elected in Guyana.

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