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Guyana Elections Commission Says It Is Not Prepared For March Election

GECOM Chairman, retired justice James Patterson (pictured) had the criminal charges, brought against him and the three government-nominated commissioners by a private citizen, thrown out by Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, who described the charges as an abuse of the court process, that had no purpose and appear to be frivolous.

Guyana Elections Commission Says It Is Not Prepared For March Election

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 20, 2019 (CMC) – The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) voted, yesterday, to formally advise that it cannot hold elections, within the 90-day period, as stipulated in the Constitution, following the passage of a motion of no confidence in the government.

Last December, the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) successfully tabled a motion  of no-confidence in the David Granger-led coalition government, and has been calling for the regional and general elections to be held on March 19, in keeping with the Constitution.

But the government has appealed the High Court motion that ruled that the motion was valid. The High Court also refused to grant a conservatory order that would have halted the countdown to the polls.

The Guyana Constitution calls for elections to be held, within 90 days, after the passage of the motion or at a time, agreed to by two-thirds of the National Assembly.

GECOM also voted to advise that it is not in a position, financially, to host the elections, without an appropriation from the National Assembly. In addition, the Commission also voted to continue with its work plan for 2019, as the other two issues are being addressed. The work plan for 2019 includes the start of the house-to-house registration process.

The three government-nominated members of the Commission voted in favour of the three motions. With regard to the first motion about the Commission advising that it cannot host elections within the 90 days period, one of the Opposition-nominated Commissioners abstained from the vote, while the other two voted against.

In the other two motions, all three opposition-nominated Commissioners voted against, with the Chairman, retired justice James Patterson, using his tie-breaking vote to side with the Commissioners nominated by the Government.

“What GECOM has said is that it is not in a state of readiness to run an election in 90 days, as a matter of fact, and based on advice that we got from the Ministry of Finance, we do not have the resources, the money, to run the elections,” said government-nominated Commissioner, Vincent Alexander.

“They indicated that we cannot use the money for national registration and move it over to elections. What we have to do is go back to the National Assembly for a special appropriation for elections. We don’t have an appropriation for elections. It is not in the 2019 budget.”

Earlier this month, Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield, said GECOM would not have been able to hold the elections in March, and suggested it could, most likely, take place in July.

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