As the Coalition Government faces increasing pressure over an election date, the administration is insisting that the Opposition is doing everything to frustrate the process.
In an escalating war of finger-pointing, Government yesterday said that Head of State, David Granger, had invited Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, to meet jointly with the Chairman and Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), but he, Jagdeo, refused.
The statement would follow one on Friday in which the President addressed the nation calling for more collaboration to end the impasse.
However, the Opposition, in turn, insisted that the President has abdicated his responsibilities by not naming a date and rather, is hiding behind the skirt of GECOM.
Yesterday, the Government said it is rejecting the “baseless allegations” of Jagdeo that President Granger has treated with the issue of the no-confidence motion in bad faith.
“That is farthest from the truth. In fact, President Granger has demonstrated impeccable leadership, despite consistent attacks from the Opposition, beyond a reasonable doubt given the current circumstances.”
The statement said that it is Jagdeo and his team of Opposition-nominated Commissioners who have repeatedly frustrated the GECOM’s attempt to come to a consensus on a ‘work plan’ and getting ready to host General and Regional Elections (GRE).
“It is a fact that the repeated absenteeism by Opposition-nominated Commissioners have been disruptive, dilatory and counterproductive to the agreement of a ‘work plan’ that could assure the nation of the Commission’s ability to hold credible elections within the shortest time possible.”
Since the passage of the no-confidence vote on December 21, 2018, the President consulted with Jagdeo twice.
It was pointed out that in each of his statements afterwards, Granger maintained that constitutionally, he cannot name a date for elections without GECOM advising him that it is ready to deliver free, fair and credible elections.
The government also insisted that there are no legal barriers to Government’s functioning and as such, the Government will continue to execute its functions to the citizenry.
According to Government, Jagdeo has taken a “high-handed and confrontational approach” in the current situation.
“He has repeatedly discredited attempts by President Granger to consult with him stating in the media that “it is a waste of time” or a “charade” even before accepting invitations issued to him. He has sought to paint a harrowing picture to the nation without attending the meetings in good faith.
“He has consistently used his weekly press conferences to attack the credibility of President Granger by calling the President and his administration illegal despite knowing that the President and Government remain legally in office until a new President is sworn in.”
Meanwhile, the Opposition in a statement Friday evening said that it has noted the address of the President– an address that repeats the “fallacies and fictions” that the APNU+AFC Coalition Government has been peddling since the December 21, 2018 passage of the no-confidence motion.
The Opposition Leader said that Guyanese would have to go back to the night of December 21, 2019, where there was initial acceptance by President Granger and his Government of the consequences that were triggered by the passage of the no confidence motion.
“The Coalition, in bad faith, then backpedalled on its initial comments. Fallacies and fictions, as well as excuses, became the new order of the day.”
The Opposition said that many times the Government has backpedaled. This is true with the issue of funding for elections and the claims of Government that it respects the judiciary.
“However, the January 31, 2019, Chief Justice’s (ag) ruling which made clear that that “Cabinet stood resigned” continues to be disregarded.
The Chief Justice (ag) ruled: “I therefore find that Cabinet is not required to resign with all convenient speed, as the resignation under Article 106(6), in my view, takes immediate effect following the defeat of the Government in a vote of confidence by a majority of all elected members of the National Assembly.”
The Office of the Opposition Leader maintained that President Granger abdicated his responsibility to name a date for General and Regional Election when he, without constitutional cover, hides behind GECOM and says that it is the Commission that must determine an elections date.
“GECOM is subservient to the Constitution. The President talks about “collaboration” but has not acted in good faith when engaging the Parliamentary Opposition.”
The office reiterated that the life of the Coalition Government can only be extended by a two-thirds vote in the National Assembly.
“If there is no such vote, the life of the Government ends; the maximum timeline set by the Constitution (three months after the passage of the no confidence motion) will have expired.
“The clock has been ticking since December 21, 2018, and there has been no stay of that timeline by the Court. After March 21, the APNU+AFC Coalition Government becomes unconstitutional, illegitimate and illegal. Sole responsibility for the impending constitutional crisis rests with President Granger and his government.”
The Opposition, which lost power in 2015 after 23 years of continuous power, made it clear that the President’s failure to address the fundamental issues has been addressed by the Parliamentary Opposition, repeatedly.
“The Guyanese people have witnessed the disparity between the platitudes offered and the actions of the Granger-led Government.”
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