Guyana Parliament Approves Money for Election Preparation

Finance Minister Winston Jordan

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Friday May 24, 2019 – The Guyana Parliament has approved GUY$3.4 billion (US$16.2 million) for the electoral commission to prepare for the polls, even as a ruling from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is pending on whether a no-confidence vote against the coalition government was valid and fresh elections are needed.

But Finance Minister Winston Jordan said the provision was “not in anticipation of anything that the CCJ may or may not say or decide on”.

He told the House that the provision of funding to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was in keeping with a commitment made by President David Granger to the elections’ management body.

Elections are constitutionally due in Guyana in 2020.

GECOM has started plans to conduct a house-to-house registration process to create a new voters’ list, which it said is necessary ahead of any elections. And it has already said it cannot be prepared to hold the polls before the end of November.

The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has appealed to the CCJ, asking it to reverse a Guyana Court of Appeal decision that the no-confidence motion passed against the government last December was not valid.

By a 2-1 majority ruling, the Court of Appeal ruled that 34 votes were needed for the no-confidence motion to succeed. The government had turned to that court after Acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled in the High Court, on January 31, that the motion was valid and that regional and general elections should be held, in keeping with the Constitution, within 90 days of the vote in which then government backbencher Charrandass Persaud sided with the opposition.

The Court of Appeal said that 34 represents an absolute majority in the 65-seat National Assembly which means that contrary to the ruling of Speaker of the House, Dr Barton Scotland and the Acting Chief Justice, the no-confidence motion was not properly carried – a position which the David Granger administration, which was elected for a five-year term on May 11, 2015, had taken.

But in the appeal filed before the CCJ, the opposition is seeking a declaration that 33 votes/members constitute a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly within the meaning of Article 106 (6) of the Constitution.

In addition to filing the appeal, the PPP previously said it would boycott any sitting of the National Assembly while the appeal is pending at the CCJ.

It has continued to do so, and all opposition MPs were absent for yesterday’s vote on funds for GECOM.

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