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GUYANA: Elections likely in April or May, 2015

Guyanese could go to the polls around April or May next year, now that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has cut short the current cycle of registration by one month, according to a commission source and a political leader.

The elections management agency announced on Saturday that the 7th Cycle of Continuous Registration would be brought to an end on December 31, 2014 rather than February 1, 2015. It was late last month that GECOM had announced that this cycle would have lasted two months, but on December 9, 2014 they agreed to truncate the period.

A usually reliable GECOM source told Caribbean News Desk that the seven-member commission unanimously agreed to “truncate” the registration period based on a recommendation by the Commission’s technical personnel. “There is no doubt that the President will be calling elections. We have to truncate the period to be in a state of readiness for when the President does so,” said the official.

GECOM’s technical personnel have assumed that President Donald Ramotar would not call election beyond May 9, 2015 which marks the end of the constitutionally prescribed period of six months since the Parliament has been prorogued (suspended). The Guyanese leader took that step on November 10, 2014 to prevent the opposition-controlled National Assembly from passing a no-confidence motion that would have compulsorily required the holding of elections within 90 days.

Explaining the time-line after this cycle of registration ends, the official said that the next stages include verification of the addresses of new registrants, cross-matching of fingerprints, preparation and display of Preliminary List of Electors (a total of 30 days), claims and objections throughout February and the preparation of the final voters list by the end of March.

After the President names Election Day, GECOM will decide when is Nomination Day which is legally no less than 32 days before polling day.

Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan told Caribbean News Desk on Saturday that now that GECOM has cut short the 7th Cycle of Registration, it is quite possible that Guyanese would elect a new government of their choice probably during March.

Ramjattan expects Ramotar to announce the dissolution of the Parliament and election date in his New Year’s Address to the Nation. “That’s what logically follows (from) a truncated position. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it will happen. It is my enlightened guess based on the computations that truncation of the registration process obviously means that,” he said.

The AFC Leader acknowledged hearing that the general and regional elections could be held in early May but at the same time he reasoned that if it was during that month then there would have been no need for the truncation of the registration period.

GECOM on Saturday said that as of Wednesday December 17, 2014,  4,277 registration transactions were completed with 3,116 being new registrants. Of the new registrants, 1,457 are persons 18 years and above while 1,659 are registrants 14 to 18 years of age. The number of registrants requesting changes to the information on their ID Cards so far amount to 611, while those requesting transfers equal 550. The percentage of verification currently stands at 95.8 percent, added the elections authority.

Anyone who will be 14 years or older by March 31, 2015, and is a Guyanese citizen by birth, descent, naturalization, or is a citizen from a Commonwealth country living continuously in Guyana for one year or more, is eligible for registration. GECOM is asking that persons make a special effort to get registered before the December 31, 2014, so as to be part of the new National Register of Registrants (NRR).