GECOM Chairman, coalition commissioners criminally charged with violating Guyana’s constitution

Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 March 2019, 18:00 by Writer

Coalition-backed elections commissioners Desmond Trotman, Vincent Alexander and Charles Corbin.

The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice James Patterson and that body’s three coalition-appointed commissioners were Tuesday charged criminally with violating Guyana’s constitution, resulting in a failure to hold general elections within 90 days of the passage of a no-confidence motion.

The private criminal charge was filed by well-known Civil Engineer and activist, Marcel Gaskin.

In a court document seen by Demerara Waves Online News, Patterson, Vincent Alexander, Desmond Trotman and Charles Corbin were charged with “conspiracy to breach the constitution of Guyana contrary to the Common Law.”

In the particulars of the offence, Gaskin said “the defendants… conspired to breach Article 106 of the Constitution of Guyana which provided for the holding of general elections in Guyana within three months from 21st December, 2018”.

The three other commissioners, who are drawn from the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), have repeatedly accused the ruling coalition commissioners, the incumbent APNU+AFC coalition and sections of GECOM of colluding to delay the polls within the constitutionally-mandated time-frame.

GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield is on record as saying that he had been awaiting the green-light from the seven-member Commission to begin preparations for general election.

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Retired Justice James Patterson.

Within the last two weeks, GECOM has gone ahead and advertised for a number of posts to conduct house-to-house registration, a process that could end around November 2019.

The PPP and its commissioners have been sticking to their position that general elections could be held using the existing voters’ list that expires on April 30.

But, President David Granger last week subscribed to his coalition and its commissioners’ position that the current voters’ list is “bloated”. He has charged them to return to their boardroom and resolve differences so that elections could be held as soon as possible.

Granger has already asked GECOM to begin preparations to conduct General and Regional Elections this year.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo last week refused to discuss anything else with President Granger unless he named a date for general elections before April 30, 2019, something the Guyanese leader said he could not do because GECOM had not provided him with sufficient information about its preparedness.