Caribbean News

Chartered accountant files court motion seeking to end house to house registration

Chartered accountant Christopher Ram Monday filed an application for a Conservatory Order to prohibit the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the Chief Elections Officer, and or the Commissioner of National Registration from conducting or continuing to conduct house to house registration ahead of the next general election.

The move by Ram, who is also an attorney, comes even as the Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield defended the ongoing registration on the basis of legal advice by the GECOM lawyer, who is of the opinion that all actions were valid before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruled that James Patterson’s appointment was flawed and unconstitutional.

In his application, Ram wants the High Court to grant an order compelling GECOM, Lowenfield, and/or Commissioner of National Registration, to immediately take all steps and actions necessary to hold General and Regional Elections on or before September 18 in compliance with the Guyana Constitution.

The matter will be heard before the Chief Justice on Tuesday.

Attorney General, Basil Williams, who has been named in Ram’s Court action, reminded that under the laws of Guyana, it is an offence to refuse to be registered and those persons encouraging others to not register are also committing an offence.

Christopher Ram took out a full-page ad in the local newspapers last week declaring that he was boycotting the house to house registration process and the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said that it too would not be cooperating with the registration process.

Meanwhile, Lowenfield, responding to a letter sent to him by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) calling for an immediate end to the registration process, said that GECOM’s legal officer Excellence Dazzell had upon his request “advised that, “In light of the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCI) on 18 June 2019, which stated that the process by which Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission was appointed was flawed, every act done by that Chairman (Justice (Rtd) James Patterson) after 18 June 2019 would be void. However, acts done before 18 June 2019 would be valid since those acts would have been done on the premise that the appointment was bona fide”.

Earlier this month, the CCJ, which is the country’s highest court, noted that while it cannot “establish a date on or by which elections must be held” it also could “not lay down timelines and deadlines that in principle are the preserves of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives”.

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