… PPP to seek injunction against elections bodyWith House-to-House Registration having forcibly commenced on Saturday, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has signalled their intention to approach the High Court on Monday to obtain an injunction against the exercise.This was revealed by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in a video recording made to reinforce his party’s position on the House-to-House exercise.According to Jagdeo, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has no legal basis for carrying out the exercise, since it will clash with the intent of the Caribbean Court of Justice rulings.Moreover, Jagdeo pointed out that House-to-House was being carried out based on an order made by the unilaterally appointed former GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson, shortly before he demitted office.“That order was overtaken by the judgement of the CCJ on July 12, which made it very explicit that GECOM must comply with the Constitution. And the Constitution says that elections must be held in three months. GECOM itself said that if they conduct House-to-House Registration, they will not be ready until December 25.”“They told the Court that and yet the Court ignored that, because they could not ignore the Constitution. The CEO was told by his own legal officer at GECOM that to go to House-to-House Registration would be illegal. Yet it is persisting. And this is done in the absence of a functioning Commission.”Registration ongoing at Vryheid Lust, ECDHe also noted that Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield did not even inform them of the start of the exercise, when political parties are supposed to ensure the transparency of the process.“They have hurriedly started this exercise. It’s going to be problematic because even the way it is being done, PPP has not been informed formally about the need to have scrutineers tracking this activity, although every transaction and the form has a part where the scrutineers from the parties have to sign on.”Jagdeo noted that in light of these circumstances, his party and supporters will not cooperate with the exercise. Additionally, Jagdeo revealed that they will be approaching the High Court next week, to seek an injunction against the exercise.“This activity has started and people are worried about it. And they want to know if they should register or not. Well we in the PPP have decided that over the weekend we will not be complying with this activity, since on Monday we will go to the courts to seek an injunction against this illegal activity, which is done in contravention of the CCJ.”“So we will not be cooperating. We will try to stop the activity; we’ve briefed the international organisations. Many have expressed concern over this approach GECOM has embarked on… so we will stop it through international pressure and through the courts, which have an obligation to uphold the CCJ orders.”House-to-HouseThe House-to-House exercise, which was last conducted in 2008, will see enumerators going in teams of two to three, from door to door in various communities across Guyana. The enumerators will present forms to registrants to fill up, as well as take fingerprints and pictures.In an advertisement by GECOM, it is stated that these enumerators work from 15:30h to 18:30h during the week and from 09:00h to 16:00h on weekends and holidays. The exercise is intended to produce a new National Register of Registrants Database and Official List of Electors.This means that everyone, regardless of whether they were registered before or not, must register anew at their place of residence between July 20 and October of this year.DisenfranchiseThe requirement for proof of residency has produced alarm for overseas-based Guyanese to the point where a court case was filed by an overseas-based Guyanese against House-to-House Registration, on the basis that it would disenfranchise her.In her court filings, Bibi Zeenatoun, a retired teacher and citizen of Guyana, had sought Writs of Prohibition and injunction and a conservatory order against GECOM.Her fixed date application explained that she worked in the United Kingdom from 1980 until her retirement in 2014. She then acquired property and maintained a residence in that country. Besides her citizenship, however, she has family ties to Guyana that include an adult son and his two children.According to the application, Zeenatoun “fears that she will be excluded from the proposed exercise of House-to-House Registration and thereby, in effect, be de-registered and in consequence thereof, and she will be unlawfully denied her statutory and constitutional right to be registered and to vote”.“The Applicant’s right to vote will and can be protected if the Respondents were to engage in Continuous Registration as provided for in Section 6 (1) of the National Registration Act Cap. 19:08,” the application advised.OrderThere has also been much debate on whether the exercise can go forward since the former Chairman, who signed the order, retired Justice Patterson, was found by the Caribbean Court of Justice to have been unconstitutionally appointed.Additionally, GECOM has said that House-to-House Registration will take 90 days, further delaying elections that should have been held since March 21. But while GECOM has said that teams have been doubled to shorten the time of the activity, this publication observed a marked absence of enumerators in sections of the city on Saturday. There were, however, GECOM staff in several sections across the country including communities on the East Coast of Demerara, East Bank of Demerara, Berbice, Region Six; Essequibo Coast, Region Two.
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