President David Granger, delivering a brief address following his meeting with Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday said both sides have agreed that regional and general elections will be held within the administrative capability of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The Head of State said he has assured the opposition that there is no intention by his Government to derail the Constitution of Guyana.
He said that ” as you know the Government has had legal recourse to the Court in order to determine the validity of the vote in the National Assembly on the 21 December, this is quite legitimate and there is no intention on the part of the Government to derail, the constitutional or legislative process. We have agreed that the two sides will continue to work together to engage GECOM and to ensure that elections are held within the administrative capabilities of the Guyana Elections Commission.”
He is assuring the public that both sides are working towards a solution and that public interest remains paramount for the Coalition Government.
According to President Granger “I would say in conclusion that we’ve had a successful engagement and both the leader of the Opposition and the President are concerned about the situation and we would like to show the public in Guyana, that we are working to a solution that they would be satisfied with.”
The two sides met to discuss the way forward following the December 21, 2018 no confidence vote in the National Assembly that was carried and saw the Government falling.
Two court actions have, thus far, been filed in the High Court challenging this vote, while another has been filed seeking to have the government resign in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.
Meanwhile, the administrative capability of GECOM has come under question with the Commissioners being unable to meet due to the Chairman, James Patterson being unwell for quite sometime now.
In fact, while acknowledging that the illness of Patterson is regrettable, Commissioners representing the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) have pointed to the move by the Chairman to extend his leave as a ploy designed to delay the holding of elections.
In a joint statement, the Commissioners – Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn – therefore urged that GECOM be alert to its duty and responsibilities as mandated by the Constitution and that no action be undertaken to subvert these intentionally.
“…we do wish him a speedy and a full recovery, we cannot be unmindful of a possible situation existing where the said extension of illness is a ploy designed to delay the holding of General and Regional Elections within the constitutionally determined 90-day time frame consequent on the previously referenced Resolution of the National Assembly,” the Commissioners stated.
No date has been set for General and Regional Elections following Wednesday’s meeting.
However, coming out of that meeting is an agreement for teams from both sides to meet with the GECOM to determine its operational readiness to host elections expected within three months’ time.
This meeting, according to the Opposition Leader, is expected to be held soon and will be led by the Chief Whips from both sides.
“We agreed that GECOM has to be ready and that we have to start urgently and that is an agreement that I think will have to be reflected in the joint communique which will indicate that they will meet with GECOM to determine operational readiness” Jagdeo said.
However, when probed as to whether there were any agreements on the hosting of elections in three months’ time as stated in Article 106 (7) of the Constitution, Jagdeo posited while no direct discussion was held in this regard, it was government who included GECOM’s readiness for elections on the meeting’s agenda.
“I believe that the President and the others would not have put on the agenda for this meeting which is a meeting to discuss the consequences of the passage of the no confidence motion. They have put on the agenda, an agenda submitted by the President to us operational readiness of GECOM” Jagdeo revealed.
Also up for discussion in the meeting was the national registration process.
However, Jagdeo explained that the list of electorates is valid up until April month end and as such there is no need for a new registration process.
“So the $3B that was allocated in the budget for that could be used elsewhere” the former President explained.
According to Jagdeo, if this sum is not sufficient to pull off elections, then the National Assembly can be approached for additional monies.
Nevertheless, the Opposition Leader, who is also the PPP’s General Secretary, posited that the party is ready for elections to be held in three months’ time.
He added that the party is moving apace in the process of selecting a Presidential Candidate and has even started ground work on its manifesto.