Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has reiterated that there can be no doubt that Guyana’s courts have an inherent and unfettered jurisdiction to interpret the nation’s constitutions.
In his weekly column, ‘My Turn’ – the Prime Minister highlighted some facts regarding “House to House” registration and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) interpretations.
“I was impressed with the mature manner in which the CCJ navigated this contentious matter, in the pronouncement of Justice Saunders [His Lordship Adrian Saunders].”
Prime Minister Nagamootoo quoted Justice Saunders noting “In this regard, the Constitution anticipates that the Leader of the Opposition and the President will conduct themselves in a reasonable and responsible manner, eschew partisanship and seek the best interest of the Republic and the Guyanese people.”
Prime Minister noted that much depends on the Leader of the Opposition to act in good faith.
“I do not expect him to repeat his three previous rituals of submitting lists that had provoked and invited unilateralism.”
According to the Prime Minister, the CCJ has advised that it would make the consequential orders on July 12, in keeping with the guiding principles. This distinguished court of last resort would make orders that are advisory and not coercive, he stated.
Providing some facts of the previous General and Regional Elections, he explained that except for the 1992 polls, where elections were already delayed by some two years, the time frame between the dissolution of Parliament and Election Day is usually no sooner than eleven weeks; around 80 days.
“For the 2015 elections, President Ramotar dissolved Parliament on February 28, set April 7 as Nomination Day, and May 11 as Polling Day. That was within the context of a proper voters list.”
However, given an early time-frame for completion of voter revision before the end of November 2019, from a practical stand-point; new, clean and credible elections could not be expected until an outer limit of January-February, 2020, Prime Minister stated.
On the eve of the 2015 elections, Prime Minister recalled that the then Chairman of the Elections Commission, Dr. Steve Surujbally outlined the factors that resulted in the revision of the voters’ list. These included (a) registration of persons coming of age; (b) deceased electors; (c) emigration of an unknown number of Guyanese who registered and subsequently emigrated; and (d) movement of citizens from remote rural to urban areas, and new housing schemes across the country.
“Dr. Surujbally concluded that notwithstanding the enormous costs associated with such an undertaking, it would be advisable to have another H-t-H [House-to-House] Registration exercise before the scheduled 2020 General and Regional Elections.”
This is enough reason why the time has come for “serious talk,” Nagamootoo asserted.