Opposition Leader’s good-faith attempt to avert constitutional crisis proved futile

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…as President Granger fails to set a date for elections

A high-level meeting between Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger ended in stalemate on Wednesday as the issue regarding the date for an election was not addressed, which led to the Opposition leaving the meeting which was fruitless.

The meeting lasted for about one hour and on Jagdeo’s departure, he told the media that he and President David Granger did not reach an agreement on a date for elections. Jagdeo had proposed that general elections could be held before the current voters list expires on April 30, 2019.

The Opposition Leader posited that that deadline was reasonable, while explaining that training and procurement of materials for elections can be completed within a new 50-day deadline. He reiterated that the Opposition is still not prepared to extend the life of the Government beyond 90 days which expires on March 21 following the passage of the no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

“I said at this point in time we are not going to extend the life of the Government unless there is an agreement to a date that is as credible and close to the constitutional requirement,” he said, explaining that the President informed him that he is awaiting word from the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) to determine an election date, and offered for them to both meet with officials there.

Jagdeo said he rejected the offer on the basis that the President has the authority to get GECOM ready for an election. “I said to him, you are the President of Guyana…you have a duty to uphold the Constitution, GECOM is a creature of the constitution, GECOM cannot override the constitution and unless we have a discussion on a date, we are not prepared to move forward on any other issue.”

Opposition has also maintained that his party will not support house-to-house registration, because it could delay the elections for at least eight months. He also suggested that in order to address fears of electoral fraud, Government should fund three polling agents from their representative parties to work at each polling station to ensure that only people who are eligible to vote do so.

According to the former president, the meeting was aimed to “suck me back into a long drawn out talk about useless things. I said you are the president and you have a responsibility and not us. You have to set the date for elections, and therefore you tell us when and in exchange for that we might be prepared to go…the time is ticking. The ball is in his court. He is the one who is leading the country into a crisis.”

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