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WPA calls on PPP to extend life of government ahead of poll preparations

The Working People’s Alliance (WPA), a vocal member of the governing coalition, on Thursday urged the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to agree to an extension of the deadline by which general elections ought to be held, in the wake of Wednesday’s High Court ruling that blessed the constitutionality of house-to-house registration.

“The WPA calls on the PPP to acknowledge that the game is over that its attempt at railroading the judicial process has been defeated. It must now return to parliament to facilitate the desired extension of the life of the government. Refusal to do so, would further tarnish that party’s image and render it unfit to lead Guyana,” the WPA said in a statement.

That party’s call came one day after Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo made it clear again that the PPP would not be lending its parliamentary support for the extension of the life of the David Granger-led administration by the constitutionally required two-thirds majority. The PPP has since said that based on the Chief Justice’s reasoning on Wednesday, the life of the government expired since March 21 and the court could not be expected to re-fix the date when the no-confidence motion was passed from December 21, 2018 to June 18, 2019 when the Caribbean Court of Justice validated the vote.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was Thursday expected to meet to consider Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire’s decision that house-to-house registration or any other method could be used to verify the National Register of Registrants, names of Guyanese registrants could not be removed from the register and that they could vote in districts where they were last registered unless their addresses were changed during the house-to-house exercise or office registration during continuous registration cycles.

Urging all parties and organisations to respect the Chief Justice’s ruling in its entirety, the WPA said the “the Chief Justice should be commended for her very balanced and reasoned conclusions.” For that political party, GECOM must now prepare for timely general and regional administration elections. “We urge GECOM to take onboard the court’s recommendations and proceed with the preparation for elections in a timely manner. WPA again wishes to congratulate GECOM for not bowing to pressure and for keeping the HtH (house-to-house) registration timeline within the CCJ’s guideline,” the party said.

The WPA says it has always felt that this recent move to the court was nothing short of “legal and constitutional gymnastics” aimed at the larger PPP agenda of frustrating credible elections. ” The CCJ’s ruling and orders were very clear that the court does not have the constitutional right to interfere with the process by which an election date is determined–that is a matter for the president in consultation with GECOM. We salute the court for not tampering with the CCJ’s ruling. [Wednesday’s] ruling is hopefully the final blow against the PPP’s effort to get the court to become unnecessarily entangled in the country’s politics.”

The WPA also called on the PPP “enablers” in the Private Sector Commission and other civil society organizations to recognize that the tide has swung against them and turn a new page for the sake of national harmony. “Guyanese should become tired of the PPP’s delaying tactics.”

The PPP and Christopher Ram, who had challenged the constitutionality of the house-to-house registration process, have since said they would not be appealing the Chief Justice’s decision. They claimed what they said was a major victory in blocking the removal of thousands of Guyanese from the National Register of Registrants.