President, Opposition Leader need to end stalemate

Former House Speaker, Senior Counsel Ralph Ramkarran Wednesday said the government and the opposition should agree to an election date and pave the way for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to begin polling preparations.

“The solution to the problem is to have an agreement with the Leader of the Opposition for a date for elections – maybe an extended date. I’m sure the Leader of the Opposition will not begrudge some extra time to give the Elections Commission some extra time to get itself in order,” Ramkarran told a public forum organised by the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre and held at Red House

On the thorny issue of three of the GECOM Commissioners saying that a new list has to be prepared and that could take as much as 18 months, GECOM’s administration has said house-to-house registration would take nine months, while holding elections after a Claims and Objections period to refresh the existing list that expires on April 30, 2019 could take about 148 days during which polling day officials would be trained and sensitive election materials would be procured.

Ramkarran said “it is not the job of the Elections Commission to demand a new list” but that is the work of the government to do so through the National Assembly. “It is the government that must pass the necessary legislation to effect a new list or the legislation will direct the Elections Commission,” said Ramkarran, a former executive member of the People’s Progressive Party and now co-founder of A New and United Guyana (ANUG) political party.

With the Guyana Constitution stating that general elections must be held within three months of the National Assembly’s approval of last December’s no-confidence motion, Ramkarran said GECOM could inform Guyanese that the voters’ list is defective because it is bloated with dead persons and migrants. “That is what they must say. And if the Guyanese people say, through their representatives, ‘proceed with the elections as the constitution requires’, that’s what they have to do,” he said.