The Guyana Elections Com-mission (Gecom) yesterday said the recent postponement of statutory commission meetings has “in no way” affected its work plan.
Gecom emphasised that it remains committed to delivering the upcoming polls within the constitutional timeframe, in a free, fair and transparent manner that would generate the peace and tranquillity similar to last elections period. “It is expected that all of the key stakeholders will contribute towards the achievement of this national objective,” it said in a statement in response to concerns raised by the governing party.
Last week, the PPP said that it was very concerned that Gecom had not been meeting due to the lack of a quorum, even though the period for claims and objections was approaching in preparation for the general elections. Under the Constitution, an Elections Commission quorum consists of the chairman and not less than four members, two of whom have been appointed by the President in his own deliberate judgment and two from among members appointed on the advice of the Opposition Leader.
According to the PPP, an opposition-nominated member had not attended any meeting for the year, while the other two were often absent, resulting in meetings not being held. “This can affect the preparatory work for the upcoming elections. The [PPP] therefore urges that this shortcoming be corrected immediately and priority be given to the work of the commission,” the party said.
Gecom Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally subsequently assured that the poll preparations were on track.
In a statement yesterday, Gecom said that on three occasions scheduled statutory meetings had to be postponed since January due to the lack of a quorum, arising out of the inability of two opposition-nominated commissioners to attend.
It noted that while it was agreed that meetings would be held on a fortnightly basis, it was also agreed that a special meeting of the commission would be called to deal with any matter associated with the carrying out of any crucial task that might arise. Gecom added that this has been the body’s modus operandi. “…It must be stated categorically that the commission’s inability to have the [postponed] statutory meetings [as had been scheduled] has in no way affected the work plan for the conduct of the upcoming general and regional elections,” it said. It further added that the plan is a work in progress that is constantly being reviewed by the Gecom Secretariat and any change to any critical path is immediately reported to the chairman, who shares the document with the commissioners without delay.
Gecom also noted that there are legal provisions to treat with crucial matters if meetings were to be continuously postponed due to the lack of a quorum. According to Article 226 (5) of the Constitution, in the absence of members without just cause, the meeting shall stand adjourned to a day not later than two calendar days. It also states that in the case of the declaration of the results of the election of the President, “the meeting shall stand adjourned to the following day, at the same time and place and notice of such adjournment shall be given to the absent members, and if at the adjourned meeting a quorum is not present, the members then present, being not less than four including the Chairman, shall be deemed to constitute a quorum and any decision made at that or any such meeting shall be valid in law and binding.”
Additionally, Gecom said that like in past instances, the chairman could use the alternative of communicating with the commissioners via a “round robin” method to arrive at a consensus on any crucial matter which might require the commission’s immediate intervention. It added that any such consensus would then be ratified at the next “quorate” commission meeting.