Finance Minister, Winston Jordan indicated that regardless of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling that the no-confidence motion was validly passed and any orders that might be issued, government will not be going to the polls with the existing voters’ list.
“Notwithstanding the ruling today and not withstanding all the consequential orders, we will be here until the elections are called and we will be at the tape when the next term arrives,” Jordan told a Bartica outreach on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo warned that if youths are disenfranchised, there would be “trouble”. “The young people, who turned 18 since the last elections, their names are not on that voters’ list and anyone who calls for an election without our young people being on that voters’ list, they’re calling for trouble in this country. Our young people, who are in fact, the beneficiaries of the wealth that will flow, they are entitled to choose a government that would guide how the money should be utilised and so we have a battle ahead of us,” he said.
Nagamootoo said despite the CCJ’s ruling, “it would be improper to force upon the people of Guyana that they go to the polls to elect a government without a voters’ list. It cannot happen anyway.”
The regional court has set next Monday to deal with the consequential orders flowing from the validation of the no-confidence motion. Elections should have been called by March 21 but the process got clogged up at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and in the court system.
Jordan emphasised that “hopefully” Guyanese would go to elections this year because “we can only go to elections when GECOM (Guyana Elections Commission) say they’re ready.” Jordan signaled that the governing coalition might call its supporters on the streets to picket “no registration, no election”.
“The list cannot be fixed and it cannot be tinkered with and CCJ or no CCJ they can’t tell us that we must tinker with that list to call elections. Elections must be free, fair and proper,” the Finance Minister said, while suggesting that the existing voters’ list, which expired on April 30, contains 650,000 out of a total population of 730,000.
Hours after the CCJ handed down its judgement on Tuesday, President David Granger said in an address to the nation that house-to-house registration would be first held to create a fresh voters’ list and that GECOM had already informed him that that it would be ready for elections in November, 2019.
“We cannot proceed on the current list of voters. It is outdated and corrupted. It may hold as many as 200,000 incorrect entries. What’s more, those who have reached the age of 18 years since the last election are not on it.
“The Constitution entitles all citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote. It is a democratic imperative that house-to-house registration be completed swiftly so we can have an election at the earliest opportunity,” Granger said.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said Tuesday that he would be pressing for elections to be held in August or September, 2019.
An increasingly fiery Jordan on the political platform urged supporters to get registered because winning the elections would not be about sloganeering “we ready”. “Do not take this registration period for granted,” he said.
He appealed to the police to be on their guard and boost their intelligence-gathering capacity because “mischief will be afoot” with already talk of violence and other forms of disruption.
Jordan reiterated that the opposition-sponsored December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion was hatched overseas and was aimed at having the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) regaining power to put its hands on the oil revenues that are expected to start off at US$300 million annually from 2020 and soar to at least US$1 billion by 2025.
“The no-confidence vote was about oil. Let’s don’t get confused and this plot to unseat this government illegally was hatched outside of Guyana and it was put into perfection on December 21st using someone who had everybody fooled because just days before he was praising the government to the hilt,” said Jordan in clear reference to then government backbencher, Charrandass Persaud, who had voted for the motion and secured its passage with 33 votes.
The United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union have called on all parties to respect the CCJ’s ruling and encouraged “all to come to an agreement on the way forward”.