The Guyana Elections Commission today met and voted to formally advise that it cannot hold elections within the 90 days period after the passage of the no-confidence motion against the government.
The Constitution calls for elections to be held within 90 days after the passage of the motion or at a time agreed to by two-thirds of the National Assembly. With the passage of the no-confidence vote on December 21, 2018, the 90 period will expire on March 20, 2019.
The Elections Commission also voted to advise that it is not in a position financially to host elections without an appropriation from the National Assembly. In addition, the Commission also voted today to continue with its work plan for 2019 as the other two issues are being addressed.
That work plan for 2019 includes the start of the house-to-house registration process.
The three government nominated members of the Commission voted in favour of the three motions. With regard to the first motion about the Commission advising that it cannot host elections within the 90 days period, one of the Opposition nominared Commissioners abstained from the vote, while the other two voted against.
In the other two motions, all three opposition nominated Commissioners voted against and the Chairman used his tie-breaking vote to side with the Commissioners nominated by the Government.
Commissioner Vincent Alexander today said “what GECOM has said is that it is not in a state of readiness to run an election in 90 days as a matter of fact, and based on advice that we got from the Ministry of Finance, we do not have the resources, the money, to run the elections. They indicated that we cannot use the money for national registration and move it over to elections. What we have to do is go back to the National Assembly for a special appropriation for elections. We don’t have an appropriation for elections. It is not in the 2019 budget”.
$3 billion was budgeted and approved in the last national budget for house-to-house registration to begin this year. The passage of the budget came before the no-confidence motion and vote.
The Guyana Elections Commission last week sought the advice of the Finance Ministry about the possibility of transferring the allocated money for registration and instead use it for the elections.
The Finance Ministry pointed out that such a move would be unlawful without the approval of the National Assembly.
The Opposition People’s Progressive Party has been making known its opposition to the house to house registration process and has also been pressing for elections within 90 days of the passage of the no confidence motion.
Two weeks ago, the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield advised that it was impossible for elections to be held within the 90 days period.
He provided a scenario that placed the earliest possible date for early elections in the month July, with that timeline shifting in the absence of the actual preparations for the elections getting underway.