GECOM’s lawyer Stanley Marcus has indicated to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that the commission will be ready for the holding of elections anytime after December 25, 2019, when a new Official List of Electors (OLE) will be completed.
Marcus was at the time making submissions in relation to consequential orders the court is yet to make after it ruled that the Opposition-sponsored No-Confident Motion against the government is valid and that the President’s unilateral appointment of Justice (Retired) James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM was “flawed”.
Marcus pointed out to CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders that GECOM is bounded by certain laws, which it intends to follow. He says that in relation to the holding of credible general and regional elections, there needs to be a new OLE since the last one, which was used for Local Government Elections last year, expired on April 30, 2019.
In responding to Marcus’s proposed date as to when elections can be held, Justice Saunders said, “This is disappointing. Because as Mr Mendes [lawyer for the Opposition] says the Constitution of Guyana suggests that these elections should have been held sometime in March. So you’re suggesting an outside date that carries us nine more months.”
Justice Winston Anderson sought to inquire if elections could be held earlier if more resources were deployed to fast track the creation of a new Official List of Electors. But Marcus maintained that December 25 is the earliest date that elections can be held. He said that the process for the holding of elections is all laid out and GECOM is acting in compliance with the law.
Justice Saunders said, “[GECOM]…I don’t want to say negligent you know…The Commission ought always to be on standby that the President of his own deliberate motion or upon a motion of confidence which it loses renders his government no more. The Commission ought always to be on standby that, that likelihood could occur and if and when that likelihood occurs it is a little strange that the Commission is saying we won’t be ready for 90 days. We would be ready for maybe nine months, maybe a year and leave the country in limbo for that period of time.”
Marcus, however, did not agree with Justice Saunders that the country would be left in limbo. In fact, Marcus maintains that there is still a government and that the government stays until it goes. Justice Jacob Wit reminded Marcus that, based on the provisions of Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, the government is in caretaker mode.
While he noted that the Constitution of Guyana does not expressly say so, Justice Wit said that this is the case in many constitutions across the globe. In this regard, he pointed out that this is the reason why the date for when elections must be held is specified in Article 106 (7) because, according to him, you cannot have a caretaker government for a year because important decisions have to be made.