…restates elections can’t be held in 90 days, does not have the funds to do such
The Guyana Elections Commission has decided by way of vote that new General and Regional Elections cannot be held in 90 days; that the Commission does not have funding for such and that house-to-house registration, as budgeted for 2019, will commence immediately.
The first decision was voted by the Commissioners 3-2 with the absentia of one People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Commissioner while the two others were voted for 3-3 by the Commissioners with the GECOM Chair breaking the tie in favour of the motions.
“GECOM will continue its routine plan for 2019,” Commissioner Vincent Alexander told the Guyana Chronicle outside the Commission on Tuesday.
“GECOM had budgeted for house-to-house registration and therefore what they will do, essentially, is to start the work that is required for house-to-house registration. They have instructions to start immediately.”
Commissioner Robeson Benn also verified that the motions were all carried.
Meanwhile, regarding funding, Commissioner, Vincent Alexander said that it was carried that there is need for appropriation from Parliament. Just last week, GECOM Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield was tasked with seeking out the Ministry of Finance on whether the $3B allocated for house-to-house registration in 2019 could be used to fund elections this year.
“Based on the advice that we got from the Ministry of Finance, we do not have the resources, the monies to run and election at this time,” he said. “They indicated that we cannot use the money for registration to move it over to elections. What we have to do is go back to the National Assembly for a special appropriation for elections.”
Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire in upholding the Speaker’s decision that the no- confidence motion was validly passed, said that Cabinet is separate from government and should resign.
However, Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General Basil Williams had pointed out the complication earlier in the month that without Cabinet no financial bills can be taken to Parliament. Alexander said that a date as to when or how the financial matter will move to the National Assembly is up to the country’s political leaders to determine.
Asked whether the decision today will clash with the recent ruling of the Chief Justice, the Commissioner made it clear that GECOM’s position was simply to state its readiness for an election. “GECOM has to advise on its readiness. That’s a factual matter. And what GECOM has said (1) is that it is not in a state of readiness to run elections in 90 days, it’s a matter of fact,” he said.
He added that more or less the Opposition Commissioners had agreed to take the matter to a vote. Alexander said that the meeting represents a form of progress from the previously experienced stalemate.
“There is movement in so far that no one is no longer waiting on us. They know where we stand and it’s for them at the level at which they operate now to take things forward,” he said.
GECOM will now inform President David Granger on its decisions.
The Commission will meet again on Tuesday or Thursday based upon the request of the America, Britain, Canada and the European Union (ABCE) who they expected to meet with next.