…gov’t ministers confident of winning next elections
…but maintained house-to-house registration crucial
THE government has accepted the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling on the no-confidence motion as validly passed and, while not agreeing with the ruling as fair, moves forward unfettered into new elections bolstered by its exceptional track record.
This was the key message of several ministers of government on Tuesday, who culminated in Bartica in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) for a multi-ministerial outreach on the same day of the ruling. All ministers present openly expressed their respect for the ruling with several reminding that, from the onset, President David Granger had stated that his administration will abide by the decision of the country’s highest court.
Speaking with the media on the sidelines in Bartica, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo stated that the present actions of the government are the validation of the position taken to observe the rule of law since the no-confidence motion was initially deemed validly passed in December 2018. “We will abide. We don’t agree with the decision that you can have somebody who has treacherously, being a citizen of a foreign country, voted in the Parliament to bring your government down. We don’t agree that that could be a valid vote, but the court ruled that way, so we have to respect that ruling,” he said.
NATIONAL REGISTRATION NECESSARY
However, he noted that the government’s position remains unchanged on the matter of house-to-house registration as this is the only means to ensure that all Guyanese are provided their constitutional right to vote.
“No elections can be held in a country without having a valid voters’ list. The Constitution of the country provides for voting of all persons 18 and above. Right now, that voters’ list has expired on the April 30; a new list has to be compiled based on house-to-house registration of all electors,” he said.
Prior to the no-confidence motion, there was a consensus on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) regarding the plan to conduct house-to-house registration in 2019. GECOM is now on the verge of commencing the national registration process with plans for a mid-June start. GECOM Chair Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson had informed President David Granger in March, 2019, as the ruling on the no-confidence motion made its way through the courts, that general elections can be held by November 2019, after the completion of house-to-house registration.
Later, at the end of May, GECOM reported that training for enumerators and other staff for the impending registration has been completed. Already, some 200 cluster offices country-wide have been identified which are to serve as meeting bases for the verification of information gathered by enumerators. At the same time, the commission continues on its voter-education campaign on television, radio and in print, encouraging individuals to get themselves and their documents ready to be registered.
President Granger, in an earlier statement to the nation, made it clear that it is essential that credible elections are held, which cannot be facilitated with a list that is “outdated and corrupted” and holds some 200,000 “incorrect entries.” While Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday expressed his disfavour with the President’s call for the national registration process, insisting that elections be held “as early as possible,” other ministers of government also agree that the exercise is necessary. “Our important first step right now is to get the house-to-house registration going…no way, I believe, our government is going to go with any second or third-best provision as it relates to the existing list. We are uncompromising that house-to-house registration must produce a new, clean list and bring on board all those people who would have turned 18,” Minister of Finance Winston Jordan told the Guyana Chronicle. He stated that the government was prepared for either side of the ruling, which is why they took to Parliament to approve $3.4B for GECOM to conduct general elections.
CONFIDENCE IN TRACK RECORD
He also stated that the coalition government is “sanguine” about the future and believes that its record puts it in good stead. Despite minor hiccups along the way, Jordan said that he is certain that citizens developed the faith that the government is in full control.
This position was shared by the prime minister, who stated that the government is “on solid foundation” when it comes to its track record with tremendous progress in less than five years.
Being in Bartica, he highlighted accomplishments such as the transformation of Bartica into a town and the soon-to-be-completed Bartica solar farm, which will contribute to sustainable energy.
He also listed Guyana’s improvements under the coalition in its economic growth rate, governance systems,integrity legislation and anti-money laundering efforts to fight terrorism and crime.
Meanwhile, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, said that despite the “noise” of the opposition which believes it stands a chance at the coming elections, the government’s unique characteristic will speak for itself. “Without a doubt they’re [the opposition are] in for a really tough time and I know that we are very confident and we’ll be able to get there. We’ve improved the lives of our citizens; we haven’t done as they would do, we’ve haven’t skipped villages because of their political affiliation. We went and we put our interventions where it is[sic] most needed and the people will remember that on elections day.”
Speaking too, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock, told the Guyana Chronicle that it is now for citizens to stay the course and to realise that there must not be an undoing of the developments initiated in recent years, but a continuation. “Guyana is too much of a beautiful country to create unnecessary confusion. I think we have a lot [of] benefits from being united and giving Guyana the opportunity to shine as we have begun to,” he said.
Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan, stated that the coalition government is confident and “ready to face the electorate,” while Minister of Social Cohesion, Dr George Norton, and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Karen Cummings, also expressed their confidence in the government’s ability to do the same.
REMAIN CALM, POSITIVE
Several other ministers also appealed to the public to remain peaceful and focused on the vision they have for themselves and the country.
“Be calm. What is taking place here is a democratic process,” Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe, advised. “We’re going to elections and we’re very confident that we will win the elections. We have been working hard as a government to make our people confident; to be accountable; to be transparent; we’re bringing government to the people to ensure that we’re personally involved in listening and solving their issues.”
She reminded the public that the values of the coalition government have not changed and are the key values needed in any group of leaders chosen to lead Guyana into its future in oil and gas. Garrido-Lowe also described Guyana’s Head of State as a “good and honest man” and “a strong, decisive leader” who truly has the best interest of his people and country at heart.
DON’T BE AGITATED
Also encouraging Guyanese to remain law-abiding and upbeat was Minister within the Ministry of Communities with responsibility for Housing, Annette Ferguson. “Remain calm. Do not be agitated; do not allow people to drive fear into you. You have elected a government to serve five years and why would one person decide how your government should serve, when they should serve and when they should not?” she reasoned. Representatives from 25 ministries and government agencies will remain in Bartica today for additional meetings and walkabouts to assist residents with their concerns.