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GUYANA | General Elections could be held in July, March ruled out by GECOM

  • Written by Wiredja News Source: Demerara Waves
  • Published in Politics
Featured Guyana's Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield Guyana's Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield
GEORGETOWN,  February 8, 2019 - Guyana's Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield has ruled out elections being held by the 20th of March noting that "assuming GECOM Commissioners give the administrative staff the go-ahead on Monday, the elections could be held in July 2019.

Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Roxanne Myers said if elections were to be held in March, then nomination day would have had to be by the end of January.

Myers said it would take 148 days to prepare for elections, but in reality it would be 105 days if procurement of sensitive materials such as ballots, stamps and ink are done concurrently with the other activities such as training of staff to man more than 2,000 polling stations countrywide.

However, with the existing voters’ list expiring on April 30, 2019, the GECOM administration says that list can be converted into a preliminary voters’ list and used to create a new voters’ list through a claims and objections period that would take a total of 35 days.

Lowenfield refused to answer questions on whether he believed a voters’ list emerging from that process could produce a credible election. Instead, he preferred to leave that to the Commission to decide.

The GECOM Chairman, Retired High Court Judge James Patterson, bluntly refused to answer questions about the major sticking points preventing the seven-member decision-making body from instructing the administrative Secretariat to begin preparations.

Patterson, instead, referred the media to the other six commissioners for answers.

Lowenfield said the People’s Progressive Party’s call for training of polling day officials to be compressed by conducting the sessions during the week instead of weekends was not feasible because the participants are mostly teachers who work all week.

Myers said house-to-house registration could take at least nine months. That is a process the governing coalition parties and their three commissioners are pushing for to purge the list of non-residents and dead persons.

In the meantime, Guyana’s main Opposition People’s Progressive Party Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday left the door open for extending the three-month deadline by which general elections should be held.

Jagdeo told a news conference on Thursday that that “only if I see good faith measures” on the government’s part would he lend his party’s support to the ruling coalition for a two-thirds parliamentary approval of the extension of the three-month deadline that expires on March 20, 2019.

Guyana’s constitution provides for elections to be held three months of the National Assembly’s passage of the no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

The National Assembly’s passage of a no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018 has put Guyana into election gear.

The High Court last week ruled that immediately after the no-confidence motion was passed, the President and Cabinet should have resigned and remained in office until after elections are held within three months.

The High Court, in ruling that the motion was validly passed, has not granted a stay or conservatory order which was filed by Attorney General Basil Williams.

  • Countries: Guyana

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