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PPP commissioners tell new GECOM Chair time for elections

PPP-nominated election commissioners Sase Gunraj Bibi Shadick and Robeson Benn.

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-aligned election commissioners on Wednesday raised the issue of house-to-house registration in a meeting with newly-appointed Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh.

“The issue of house-to-house registration was raised… what should be happening, claims and objections, etcetera; those were all issues that were discussed,” one of the PPP commissioners, Sase Gunraj, told reporters after the more-than-hour-and-a-half meeting.

The PPP is opposed to house-to-house registration and prefers to revive the voters’ list, which expired on April 30, and subject it to a period of claims and objections for use at the next general elections. However, the governing coalition is supporting the registration exercise to weed out the names of deceased and migrants as well as address what it says are other defects.

Also discussed, he said, was “the conduct of elections as are constitutionally due”. Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire recently remarked that based on the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) decision, elections should be held by September 18 or at another date if approved by two-thirds of the 65-seat National Assembly.

Political commentator, Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram is awaiting a High Court hearing and decision on his request for an order to be issued for elections to be held no later than September 18. He believes that the now 11-day old registration process will collide with that deadline after the CCJ validated last December’s no-confidence motion.

“I’m satisfied that I have raised the issue and I believe dealt with the factors that militate against the conduct of house-to-house registration at this point vis-à-vis the holding of elections,” said Gunraj, also an Attorney-at-Law.

Praising GECOM Chairperson Singh as appearing “very respective and respectful to the views that we presented to her”, Gunraj refused to say whether she preferred to await the High Court’s ruling. “I don’t believe that I’m at liberty to disclose that preference of hers or otherwise”. He conceded that the fact that the High Court’s decision was pending was discussed.

The other PPP-aligned election commissioners Robeson Benn and Bibi Shadick declined to speak with the media.

Justice Singh was Wednesday afternoon due to meet with the pro-governing coalition’s election commissioners—Vincent Alexander, Desmond Trotman and Charles Corbin—before she meets with the full commission at a later date.