Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram has filed new legal proceedings against the government—this time he wants the High Court to order the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to stop house-to-house registration which commenced on Saturday, July 20. In fact, Ram is asking the court to compel GECOM to hold general and regional elections on or before September 18, in keeping with the recent rulings of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Ram noted that he has a deep and abiding interest in the rule of law being upheld and the Constitution of Guyana, the supreme law of the land, being obeyed and complied with by those upon whom it casts duties and responsibilities.
In a Fixed Date Application filed today, Ram asks the court for a declaration that the house-to-house registration process is in violation of Articles 160 (6) and 106 (7) of the Constitution of Guyana and the letter and spirit of the judgments and Consequential Orders by the CCJ in the No-Confidence Motion appeals. In this regard, Ram is further asking for a declaration that the house-to-house registration process is illegal, unlawful, ultra vires, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.
The Respondents in Ram’s filing are the Chief Elections Officer, Commissioner of National Registration, GECOM and the Attorney General. Among other things, Ram contends that the GECOM Respondents were duly advised on separate occasions by their Legal Advisor (Excellence Dazzell) that the said house-to-house Registration exercise if unlawful and unconstitutional and they have ignored the said advice.
According to Ram, “If this House to House exercise is permitted to continue, it will constitute a flagrant violation, not only of the Constitution but of the rule of law and will be an assault on constitutional democracy…I fear that in order to complete this House to House Registration within an impossible time frame, will result in thousands of Guyanese being unlawfully deregistered and will omit to register thousands of qualified registrants thereby resulting in the loss of their right to vote at the next elections.”
Furthermore, Ram contends that the Respondents have already defied the judgments and orders of the CCJ and the Constitution and therefore have manifested a clear intention that they are not prepared to be bound by an Order of Court unless it is specific and cast upon them a clear duty to act or refrain from acting. This application comes up for hearing tomorrow before the Chief Justice.
In a recent full page newspaper ad, Ram said that he would be boycotting house-to-house registration because it is unconstitutional. According to Ram, the order to conduct the registration process was issued by retired Judge James Patterson, whose unilateral appointment as Chairman of the GECOM was declared unconstitutional and void by a judgment handed down by the CCJ on June 18.
“He (Patterson) had no authority to issue such an Order”, Ram declared in the ad. Urging persons of like mind to not participate in the process Ram said, “This exercise is a violation of the rule of law which underpins the Constitution of Guyana and the democratic rights of Guyanese to elections and the duty of a Government to submit itself to the electorate.”
Moreover, Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo had informed that the PPP will not be participating in the registration activity since it contravenes the rulings of the CCJ that elections should be held in three months following the passage of a no-confidence motion against government.
The house-to-house exercise, Jagdeo reminded, will take more than six months to be completed, thereby pushing the holding of elections past the three-month deadline.
In the meantime, Government has insisted that GECOM must hold house-to-house registration to ensure that there is a clean list of electors before the political parties head to the polls. President David Granger has already told the nation that he cannot proclaim a date for elections unless he is informed by GECOM on its readiness for fair and credible polls.