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Christopher Ram asks High Court to stop house-to-house registration

Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire

The High Court will Tuesday begin hearing a request by Attorney-at-Law and political commentator, Christopher Ram on whether to block the Guyana Elections Commission from going ahead with house-to-house registration.

Through his lawyers, Ram also wants the court to issue a Conservatory Order compelling the Guyana Elections Officer, Chief Election Officer and/or the Commissioner of National Registration to “immediately take all steps and actions necessary and requisite” to hold general and regional elections on or before September 18, in compliance with constitutional provision for the holding of general elections after the passage of last December’s no-confidence motion.

Ram’s move to the courts stem from GECOM last Saturday commencing house-to-house registration countrywide, a process that could take three months. Also being used to support Ram’s request for the orders are the three consolidated decisions by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram.

Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire is expected to hear the case Tuesday morning.

The CCJ has validated the no-confidence motion, but in refusing to order a date has said the decision to hold elections rests with the President, Opposition Leader, Parliament and to some extent GECOM.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has vowed not to agree to an extension of the life of the National Assembly. The CCJ has said the government is “interim” and in “caretaker” mode until elections are called. The PPP has been demanding that the voters’ list, which expired on April 30, be revived and opened up for claims and objections to allow for persons to be registered, transfer their residency or object to the names of deceased persons.

But government has said the voters’ list is too bloated with as many as 200,000 names and the presence of thousands of other defects making it unclean to hold credible elections.

Chief Election Officer of the Guyana Elections Commission, Keith Lowenfield.

“In willful and flagrant violation of Articles 106(6) and 106(7) of the Constitution of Guyana, and, in deliberate defiance of the Caribbean Court of Justice decisions and Orders, the Cabinet has not resigned, the President has not issued a Proclamation dissolving Parliament and fixed a date for elections not later than 18th September, 2019. Moreover, the First, Second and Third Named Respondents have commenced a process of House to House Registration in order to compile a new National Register of Registrants” Ram stated.

Ram’s lawyers noted that GECOM’s lawyer, Stanley Marcus, had told the CCJ judges that the earliest date that GECOM could finish house-to-house registration would be December 25. Now, also, he fears that thousands of Guyanese will be taken off the voters’ list.

“The Applicant fears that in order to complete this House to House Registration within an impossible time frame it will result in thousands of Guyanese being unlawfully deregistered and will omit to register thousands of qualified registrants thereby resulting in their loss in their right to vote at the next elections.

Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall

Ram, through his lawyers, said the house-to-house registration process is unconstitutional, illegal, null and void in as much as, the process encompasses the retiring of the existing database and the creation of a new one compiled pursuant to the house-to-house exercise.

Ram is being represented by Mohabir A. Nandlall and Associates, Hari Narayan Ramkaran S.C., Mohabir Anil Nandlall, Marcia Nadir-Sharma, Kamal Ramkaran, Devindra Kissoon, Euclin Gomes, Manoj Narayan, Sasha S. Mahadeo-Narayan, Rajendra R. Jaigobin, Mark Conway & George Thomas.