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PPP threatens court action for GECOM to hold elections

PPP General Secretary and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, on the heels of a favourable High Court ruling on last month’s no-confidence motion, has threatened to move to the court to force the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to hold elections with the present voters’ list by March 19.

“We are exploring now whether we can go to the courts to direct GECOM to fulfill its constitutional duties and not take directions from the government, the executive which wants to hang on to power at all cost,” he said.

He called on the government to comply with Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire’s decision and resign because the no-confidence motion was validly passed on December 21, 2018.

“We expect this government to comply with the Chief Justice’s ruling and immediately start the preparations for general elections,” he told a news conference.

The Opposition Leader wants President David Granger to announce that he respects Guyana’s constitution and “not doing so will show gross disrespect” for the constitution.

Insisting that general elections could be held by March 19 — in keeping with the 90 day deadline after the passage of the no-confidence motion — Jagdeo said the time to act was now while at the same time acknowledging that the appeal could go “either way”.

The Chief Justice refused an application by Attorney General Basil Williams for a stay and conservatory order of her decision. She said the request for a stay could be made to the Court of Appeal after the official written decision is given to the lawyers next week Wednesday.

“Right now there is a valid decision of the court which says the government has fallen and elections have to be held within 90 days,” Jagdeo said.

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield is next week Tuesday expected to inform the Commission what are the short, medium and long timeframes for holding general elections. The government and its three nominated elections commissioners have been arguing in favour of house-to-house registration because the list of about 500,000 names is bloated when one considers the total population of about 745,000.

Jagdeo accused the government and sections of GECOM of calling for house-to-house registration which could take six months to a year as a means of delaying the elections.

He is not in favour of his envoy Gail Teixeira and her government’s counterpart Amna Ally meeting again with GECOM to determine its readiness because it was now time for the Elections Commission to exercise its mandate.

Meanwhile, Jagdeo cautioned that Cabinet was meeting illegally since December 21, 2019 and the High Court “ruling effectively invalidates all decisions and meetings”.

The High Court found that the no-confidence motion was validly passed by an absolute majority of 33 to 32, and that the House proceedings on December 21, 2019 were valid in spite of then government lawmaker, Charrandas Persaud, a dual citizen legislator which is unconstitutional, voting for the motion.