GECOM’s needs to determine Parliament’s dissolution – Harmon

Parliament of Guyana

In September, President David Granger announced March 2, 2020, as the date for the hosting of the constitutionally-mandated General and Regional Elections; however, with time creeping up, he is yet to issue a proclamation to dissolve Parliament.

If elections are to be held on March 2, 2020, as announced, then President Granger would have to dissolve Parliament by December 3, 2019.

This is in keeping with Article 61 of the Constitution, which states that election of members of the National Assembly should be done within three months after every dissolution of Parliament.

Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.

It has been almost one year after the successful passage of a motion of no confidence against the A Partnership for National Unity /Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition government and the constitutionally-mandated General and Regional Elections are yet to be held.

This is despite the Constitution clearly outlining that elections were supposed to be held no later than 90 days after the motion was passed.

On Thursday, Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, when asked about the dissolution of Parliament, said that would solely depend on the needs of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“In fact, we have said it is important that GECOM gets all of the resources it needs to ensure that we have credible elections in March of 2020. So what I am saying is those issues will have to be dealt with before the Parliament is dissolved. I can’t say that Parliament is going to meet today, the next day or whatever but these are the matters that are under active consideration in the Cabinet and so that the dissolution of the National Assembly will be determined in principle measure by the need for GECOM to get the additional resources which it says it wants,” Harmon told the Press Corps.

He noted that Parliament is still functioning while explaining that it is the National Assembly that has not met as yet.

“I don’t know that the Parliament is not functioning, maybe the National Assembly has not met but Parliament is functioning. There are some efforts to have some of the Parliamentary Committees meet until such time Parliament is dissolved. Just last week, the speaker received the reports from several entities,” he said.

Earlier in the month, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters that the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C) will resume protest actions if President David Granger does not dissolve Parliament come next month.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

Having already set March 2, 2020, as the date for the much-anticipated General and Regional Elections and issuing the election proclamation, pressure has been mounting on the President to also dissolve the 11th Parliament.

“When the time comes, he will have to dissolve. I’m just making sure that he understands one thing that December 2 is the day… He has to dissolve Parliament; he has to issue a proclamation. Let him delay that and we’ll resume protest because that’s part of the holding of elections – the dissolution of Parliament,” Jagdeo had noted.

The APNU-AFC coalition has been acting as a caretaker government for nearly one year since the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) against it.

President Granger had earlier indicated that he could not say when Parliament would be dissolved.

“I will stay away from dissolution as long as there is a likelihood that we will need the vote of the whole Parliament to pass any measure – financial measure. Unfortunately, for time to time, because of urgent matters such as flood or fire, we may need funds and only Parliament could authorise disbursement of funds which have not been provided for,” he stated.

The Head of State further stated that in light of the circumstances, Government has not drafted a budget for 2020 and as such, has to be prudent in its expenditure.