…commissioners to offer proposal on Chief Justice’s ruling
THE Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will meet next Tuesday and commissioners will offer their proposals on the finite interpretations and applications of the acting Chief Justice’s ruling.
This is according to Government-appointed GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, following another meeting with GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh on Friday.
Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George ruled that the ongoing house-to-house registration, being undertaken by GECOM, is within the confines of the Constitution, and is therefore legal.
The Acting Chief Justice delivered her judgment in a case challenging the constitutionality of house-to-house registration brought before the High Court by Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram, in which GECOM, Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, and Attorney-General Basil Williams were the named respondents.
Alexander said that the ruling of the Chief Justice is being taken into consideration when further discussions are being done.
He explained that the Chief Justice noted that house-to-house registration cannot be used to extract people from the National Register of Registrants Database but it was stated that commissioners will look at matters pursuing to Article 159 and the movability of the National Registration Act.
“So that we are concomitantly looking at 159, its proviso and the National Registration Act and what it provides for… the sticky point is that we don’t have consensus,” he empathised.
When asked about his hope on getting consensus, Alexander expressed caution about discussing anything in details pertaining to the ongoing forum.
“I am cautious about the context, about the ongoing discussions, not to engage the public. In our political environment I think we need to use an approach that allows for internal discussions and not to have the politicians be rancored by what we have to say if it would influence what may happen internally, so yes we have propositions, but I prefer at this time not to be the one to put it out in the public,” Alexander said, noting that the little he had stated previously caused a bitter reaction from the opposition leader.
He said the public should have information on something definitive and internal aspects of discussions should be left inside the meetings.
He explained that the next meeting will be on Tuesday (August, 27) and certain proposals will be submitted freely by individual commissioners on the way forward surrounding the Chief Justice’s rulings, which includes house-to-house registration.
“Every commissioner reserves a right; it doesn’t mean every commissioner will,” he said.
When asked about the scenarios put forward for elections by the Chief Elections Officer, Alexander said such scenarios were not discussed but the previous submissions dealt with lots of time.
“Before we get to specifics, of lots of time, what we need to do, is to cross the hurdle of our finite interpretation and application of the Chief Justice ruling which doesn’t speak to lot of time, which speaks to how house-to-house is still relevant,” Alexander.
He explained that the Chief Justice stated that house-to-house was constitutional and useful based on the application of the National Registration Act.
Expressing concerns about persons not being taken off the list, Alexander said “I don’t
think I can dwell on those concerns because the court has ruled and I think we have to be cognizant of the ruling and work within that context.”
Alexander said within such a framework, options must also be explored on ways to sanitize the list.
“If one looks at the law as the National Registration Act and its schedules under rule 38 and rule 40, methods of removal of names from the registrar of registrants, in some regards I would say time is against regulation 40 but time is not against regulation 38 which speaks to removal of the names and gives a number of conditions under which that could be pursued… it does speak to the fact that there are options and this forms a basis of my proposal,” Alexander stated.
PPP-nominated election commissioner, Sase Gunraj is of the opinion that government elected GECOM commissioners are using delaying tactics to stymie any development for imminent elections.
“We are not able to have meaningful discussions because there are delaying tactics being employed by the other side to prevent the holding of elections,” Gunraj stated.
Residents are urged to have the relevant documents required for registration ready and be on the lookout for GECOM’s registration officials in their area.
“These documents include an original Birth Certificate, a Valid Passport, Naturalisation Certificate, Certificate of Registration, Adoption Certificate and Deed Poll or Marriage Certificate (if applicable),” the elections body stated.
Guyanese citizens by birth, descent, naturalisation or registration, 14 years and older by October 31, 2019 or a citizen of a Commonwealth country living in Guyana for a period of no less than one year, preceding the qualifying date, are all eligible for registration.