The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) on Wednesday said that Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson on Tuesday voted against an extension of the continuous registration period.
Patterson’s vote resulted in a majority decision against the PPP’s request for an extension, according to a statement from the party. Patterson recently also voted against the opposition-nominated elections commissioners on the question of the appointment of a Deputy Chief Election Officer.
Explaining the sequence of events, the PPP said it had written to the Chief Election Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, requesting an extension of the continuous registration exercise. The PPP said it pointed out that the exercise, which officially ended on July 8, 2018, was initially scheduled to commence on May 7, 2018. However, it began two weeks after that date thereby shortening the designated period for registration.
“The PPP firmly believes that the request for an extension was crucial and reasonable given that a number of eligible registrants were unable to engage in the process due to insufficient time. The disadvantage resulting from the shortened period was further compounded by an inadequate and ineffective public relations support mechanism”, the party argued.
During a preparatory meeting in which these concerns were raised, the PPP said that Lowenfield said that he would express same to the Commission, and, noted, that there was room for an extension in the period leading up to the Local Government Elections.
The PPP said it was reported to it that Commissioner, Charles Corbin, who was nominated by APNU to GECOM, met with a senior staffer in the CEO’s Office, resulting in Corbin presenting timelines in support of a “no extension” position. The PPP statement said that Lowenfield subsequently voiced concern at the GECOM meeting that even a schedule with a one-week extension would be “tight”.
Despite the initial assurance when the PPP request for extension was discussed at the last GECOM meeting, the PPP said that Patterson, cast his vote against it.
“Given the importance of this process, especially in the context of openness and to prevent disenfranchisement, the PPP is disappointed that the Chairman, despite his recent public assurances of a free and fair election, was opposed to a short extension of the continuous registration exercise to allow persons who were unable to register and carry out other related transactions, including transfers, to do so.
“This latest action by the Chairman is fast becoming a trend of partisanship following his earlier casting vote for the appointment of the Deputy Chief Election Officer …which denied the highest ranking candidate the position”, the party said.
Yesterday, November 12th was named as the date for Local Government Elections by Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan.