President not obliged to take GECOM’s advice on elections date – Govt commissioner

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Government’s Commissioner on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, has said that President David Granger is not obliged to go with the advice proffered by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) regarding a date for national elections, since such powers lie with the president himself to make such a pronouncement.

Speaking with media operatives following a meeting with the diplomatic community at GECOM on Thursday, Alexander said the Elections Commission only starts preparations for polls after being given a date by the Head of State.

“What people don’t seem to understand, [it] is not for GECOM to automatically go into preparing for the elections outside of an order from the President giving a date. The President has to give a date for elections and that is what GECOM has to work with because there are statutory dates leading up to that date. You can’t determine those statutory dates outside of an order,” the Commissioner stated.

On this note, he went on to reject accusations that it is the elections body that is delaying the holding of General and Regional Elections by the constitutional March 19 deadline.

According to Alexander, what is required of GECOM is for it to state its level of preparedness, which is what the Commission has done.

Against this backdrop, the Government appointed Commissioner was asked whether the President is obliged to adhere to the advice of the elections body or can go ahead and set a date of his choice.

He responded saying, “Legally he might not be obliged, but certainly in the terms of the spirit of the Constitution and in terms of any logical framework, one would expect him to take that advice. And more than that, we have precedence of [presidents] taking that advice [from GECOM].”

After weeks of stalemate on the way forward, GECOM earlier this week voted to continue its normal activity and to inform the President that new General Elections cannot be held by the constitutional deadline – a move which has placed Guyana on the brink of a constitutional crisis.

During a Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson used his deciding vote and sided with Government Commissioners to pass a motion that new elections could not be held in 90 days as constitutionally mandated.

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