PSC looks forward to Gecom carrying out its functions

first_imgDear Editor,The Private Sector Commission (PSC) notes with considerable satisfaction that President Granger on Thursday (8th August, 2019) met with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) under the leadership of its newly appointed Chair, Justice Claudette Singh, and offered the assurances of his government to respect and support the independence of the Commission and the role and advice of the Commission on the conducting of General and Regional Elections.The Private Sector Commission was heartened at the appointment of Justice Claudette Singh to the post of Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission. We look forward to the Commission carrying out its functions as required by the Constitution and in accordance with the judgment rendered by the Caribbean Court of Justice on 18th June, 2019, with regard to the holding of General and Regional Elections.The Private Sector Commission continues to believe that it is extremely unfortunate that the Commission hastened to introduce house-to-house registration resulting from a questionable decision made under its previous Chairmanship and expects this matter will receive the urgent attention of the Commission under its new Chair.The PSC wishes to reiterate that it is a fact that the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD), which was compiled in 2008, has continued to be updated from continuous registration and, since that time, has been used credibly in all subsequent General and Regional Elections and Local Government Elections with the total acceptance of all the contesting political parties.The Private Sector Commission holds firmly to the view that the National Register of Registrants Database (NRRD), compiled since 2008, supported by photographic and finger print biometrics, which has not expired, and which has benefitted from continuous registration since that time, needs only to be subject to the statutory option of claims and objections to be brought up-to-date.The Private Sector Commission wishes to emphasise that the Caribbean Court of Justice clearly advised that “given the passage of the no-confidence motion of 21st December, 2018, a general elections should have been held in Guyana by the 21st March, 2019, unless a two thirds majority in the National Assembly had resolved to extend that period”.The CCJ further observed that:“the National Assembly has yet to extend the period, the filing of the Court proceedings in January challenging the validity of the no-confidence vote effectively placed matters on pause, but this Court rendered its decision on 18th June, 2019. There is no appeal from that judgment”.“Article 106 of the Constitution invests in the President and the National Assembly and implicitly in GECOM responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the Elections which must be held. It would not therefore be right for the Court, by the issuance of coercive orders or detailed directives, to presume to instruct these bodies on how they must act and thereby pre-empt the performance by them of their constitutional responsibilities”.“It is not, for example, the role of the Court to establish a date on or by which the elections must be held, or to lay down timelines and deadlines that, in principle, are the preserve of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives”.The Private Sector Commission, however, recognizes that the “constitutional imperatives” are that General Elections should now, therefore, be held within three (3) months of the consequential orders rendered on 18th June, 2019, that is, no later than 18th September, 2019, and expects that the President and GECOM, as the CCJ assumed, “will exercise their responsibilities with integrity and in keeping with the unambiguous provisions of the Constitution bearing in mind that the no-confidence motion was validly passed as long ago as 21st December, 2018”.The Private Sector Commission continues also to be concerned that in spite of the assurances offered by President Granger in his address on 25th July, 2019, of the government’s recognition of its “caretaker” status, the President has refused to accept the requirement of Article 106 (6) of the Constitution that “the Cabinet including the President shall resign if the government is defeated by the vote of the majority of all of the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of no- confidence”.The PSC considers it worthy of recall that when Justice Singh, in her capacity as a High Court Justice, was required to rule in 2001 on the status of a caretaker government, the Court ordered that “the President and his Cabinet, as presently constituted, shall perform their respective functions of office” subject to the following limitations:“a) no legislation shall be introduced in Parliament except those required for the proper and timely holding of fresh National and Regional Elections;b) no substantial contracts for the execution of public works shall be awarded without the permission of this Court;c) the State owned media shall only be used for elections purposes through paid advertisements”.The Court at that time also ordered that “Parliament, as presently constituted, shall continue to function for the necessary and limited purposes of enacting such legislation as is required for the proper and timely holding of fresh National and Regional Elections…and shall stand resolved by Nomination Day”.We wish to repeat that it is very much the business of Guyana’s business community to engage the national political process to ensure electoral democracy and democratic governance. Political actors need to understand and accept that the first and foremost requirement for business to operate effectively and to succeed is political stability, added to which there must be respect for the rule of law and political freedom.It is the position of the Private Sector Commission and the 26 business organizations and the 29 of the largest companies in Guyana which we represent, that not only does the business community have a natural democratic right to participate in the political processes of the country, but also a Constitutional right enshrined under Article 13 of the Constitution.Sincerly,Private SectorCommissionlast_img