Despite Chief Justice ruling… Opposition warns that duplicate registration a criminal offence…cautions enumerators to stop threatening GuyaneseThe third meeting with new Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairperson and Commissioners on Friday ended yet again without a decision on the way forward, even as the timeline for elections is drawing nearer and uncertainty soars among the population.PPP Commissioners Bibi Shadick and Sase GunrajThe three-hour meeting ended on odd notes after no pronouncement was made on an elections date, or other matters— such as the continuance of House-to-House Registration. This was the third engagement ever since new GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh was appointed.After the meeting, PPP Commissioners shared their positions that the discussions were not meaningful and insisted that Government is continuing its delaying tactics.In an invited comment with the media, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Commissioner Sase Gunraj expressed his disappointment at the outcome. He insisted that timely elections is the foremost issue to be addressed.GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh“We have not reached any meaningful decisions this afternoon. I can’t even say that the discussions were meaningful. That is as far as I can go. It is clear that the delaying tactics continue and that has stymied any developments that we can have…We need to have elections in a timely manner. That is the bane of all my discussions today,” Gunraj pointed out.On the other hand, Government-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander maintained his position that they have not reached a consensus as yet because negotiations are still in progress. This, he said, circled around maintaining deadlines and the rationality behind the national registration exercise.The Commissioner stated, “A decision has not been made. We are still in the course of discussions. We are discussing the way forward. We are discussing the usability of House-to-House [Registration] and the need to ensure that whatever we do is in a timely manner”.Government Commissioner Vincent AlexanderWhile claims of propositions were made on their end, these details were not disclosed. Another meeting is slated for next Tuesday, where proposals are to be submitted.“Yes, we have propositions, but I prefer not to be the one to put it out in the public. The public needs to know where we are at in terms of something definitive…All commissioners are free to submit proposals in relation to the way forward, in relation to how we respond to the Chief Justice’s ruling,” Alexander mentioned.Nation is impatientMoments after the meeting was concluded, the PPP’s strongly-worded statement expressed concern about the lack of clarity from GECOM about a likely date when Guyana can head to the polls. The Party advised that the nation is impatient and is certainly bound to be after the CJ’s position that elections were due since March 21, 2019.According to the PPP, while GECOM procrastinates, the nation is becoming more frustrated and more impatient. “Despite the clear pronouncements from the Chief Justice that elections were constitutionally due since 21st March 2019, and that the House-to-House Registration can neither result in the creation of a new National Register of Registrants (NRR) database, nor can it be used to remove the names of persons already registered, the Government-nominated Commissioners continue to irrationally argue at Commission meetings that the data generated by this exercise must be used,” the Party said.A reminder was given that this ‘deeply flawed’ process lacked scrutiny from other political parties and is boycotted by a large fraction of the population. Moreover, supporting the use of this data for a second database is illegal under the National Registration Act.“We have already pointed out that this data is deeply flawed, not only by the sheer speed by which it is being accumulated, but also it is not scrutinised by all the political parties, the wrong registration form is being used, and the exercise is being boycotted by tens of thousands of Guyanese. In fact, they are arguing for this data to be used to create a second database. This is clearly illegal. Duplicate registration is a criminal offence under the National Registration Act”.Criminal offenceThe PPP also warned enumerators against threatening the public who has refused to participate in the exercise, since reregistering a registered person is a criminal offence. These acts will be reported to the Police and they can face prosecution.“We caution enumerators to stop threatening Guyanese who are refusing to participate. We advise the enumerators that to register a person who is already registered is to aid and abet the Commission of a criminal offence, for which they are equally liable as the perpetrators and that we will report this matter to the Police with a request to institute criminal charges,” the PPP positioned.In their calls for a Claims and Objections cycle, the PPP insisted that actions to violate the Constitution or judicial rulings will not be accepted. It was underscored that GECOM’s actions continue to breech legal frameworks while the hosting of House-to-House Registration exercise is unwarranted.“We remind GECOM that its actions and inactions continue to violate the Constitution, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) consequential orders and the recent decision of the Chief Justice. We emphasize that GECOM is violating its constitutional duty to the people of this country and is continuing to squander hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ dollars in an unwarranted House-to-House exercise. We wish to, once again, make it clear that the PPP will not support any decision or actions of GECOM that will continue to violate our Constitution, disrespect the rulings from our Judiciary and perpetuate an illegal Government in office”.During the first meeting last week Thursday with GECOM officials, the written ruling of the Chief Justice was cited as the main reason why a decision was not made.However, earlier this week, Chief Justice Roxane George delivered her decision in written format, delivered her written ruling on the No-Confidence motion, issuing a firm reminder to GECOM that a No-Confidence Motion was passed and as such, the body cannot ignore this and proceed as though it’s business as usual.This reminder is contained in paragraph 113 of the document. According to the written judgement, former GECOM Chairman James Patterson’s order to begin House-to-House Registration did not take into consideration the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion.“The fact is, that the July 2018 decision and that made in 2007 at the 171st Meeting of GECOM to conduct House-to-House Registration, were not made in the context of an NCM,” the CJ wrote in her ruling.“The NCM is an extraordinary circumstance that GECOM must bear in mind in its decision-making as it conducts the House-to-House Registration and for that matter, any verification process that has as the objective the compilation or revision of the list of electors for the required upcoming elections,” the document also noted.Justice George acknowledged that GECOM is an independent body pursuant to Article 161 and 162, which is not subject to the control of any other authority. But she also noted that GECOM is also subject to the Constitution and laws and thus, the Commission “cannot act as though it is in a normal registration or election cycle”.