Even as the search to find a new Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) continues, the political opposition is now upping pressure on the commission to begin preparations for the holding of general and regional elections on a date no later than September 18, 2019.

Former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall – acting on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo – has written to the GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer (CEO), Keith Lowenfield, requesting that he gets on the ball immediately.

In the letter seen by the Guyana Standard, Nandlall referenced the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) which validates the passage of the December 21, 2018 no-confidence motion. The motion activates the provisions contained with Article 106 of the Constitution of Guyana which states, amongst other things, that elections be held within three months of the motion being passed.

The CCJ in its consequential orders on July 18, made reference to the article, saying: “their [constitutional provisions] meaning is clear and it is the responsibility of constitutional actors in Guyana to honour them. Upon the passage of a vote of no-confidence, the Article requires the resignation of the Cabinet, including the President.” 

The Article goes on to state, among other things, that notwithstanding such resignation, the government shall remain in office and that an election will be held “within 3 months or such longer period that the National Assembly by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all elected members of the National Assembly …”.

Nandlall asserted that GECOM has that responsibility to conduct the elections and it must abide by the provisions of the Constitution.

He wrote to Lowenfield, “You must be aware, that GECOM was made a party to the aforementioned legal proceedings by the CCJ so as to make the Orders of the Court directly binding on GECOM and, as the Chief Elections Officer, you are inextricably so bound. Therefore, any actions or omissions on your part which may be interpreted to be in violation or frustration of the letter and spirit of the Orders and judgments of the CCJ may expose you to contempt of court proceedings.”

Meanwhile, four persons who were nominated by the Leader of the Opposition for the Chairman of GECOM post, have found favour with the president. The four nominees are expected to be included on a list which will be submitted formally to President David Granger for his consideration.

This was the result of a high-level meeting between President Granger and the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, at the Ministry of the Presidency yesterday. In that meeting, the President was accompanied by Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, while the Opposition Leader was accompanied by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Member of Parliament and the party’s presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali.

In a joint statement following the meeting, the leaders said, “It was agreed, that from the list of five names shortlisted by the working group, four were found not unacceptable to the President; and as part of the hammering-out process, the two names suggested by the President and others as may be necessary, will be discussed further.”

President Granger, in the company of the Director-General, said that he and the opposition leader had a “fruitful” meeting.


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