The seven-member Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is embroiled in fresh controversy over the timeframe for holding general elections, with the opposition party-appointed commissioners denying that voting was underway on house-to-house registration and the ruling APNU+AFC-backed commissioners stating that the motion was passed.
The three opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) elections commissioners – Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shadick and Robeson Benn – walked out of a meeting on Thursday because “There was no vote in progress when we left that meeting,” Gunraj told Demerara Waves Online News. Maintaining that himself, Shadick and Benn said they were not going to participate in the discussions, Gunraj said they walked out.
Gunraj said there were no discussions at Thursday’s meeting about how much money GECOM would need to conduct General and Regional Elections. This latest imbroglio came one day after President David Granger wrote GECOM asking that body for its work programme and how much money was needed to hold elections.
The ruling coalition commissioners – Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman – said GECOM would now inform President David Granger that by a majority of the three of them, they voted to proceed with house-to-house registration.
Describing Thursday’s meeting as a “farce”, PPP elections commissioner, Benn said the Commission had been discussing his side’s plan to hold general elections by April 30, instead of March 21, when Alexander intervened and said the elections could not be held without considering house-to-house registration.
The PPP had wanted general elections to be held by March 21, 2019 – within 90 days of the National Assembly’s-approved no-confidence motion – and after that date became elusive, that party called for the polls to be held by April 30 when the existing voters’ list expires.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has refused to agree to extending the life of the National Assembly beyond March 21 unless President Granger names an election date.
Out of a population of almost 750,000 persons, the voters’ list has 633,156 names.