President David Granger yesterday met with Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, at the Ministry of the Presidency.
During their interaction, the Head of State informed Ambassador LaRocque that the Government of Guyana respects the rule of law and will abide by the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
“I am prepared to comply with every ruling of the court,” the President said in a government statement.
Further, he committed to the holding of credible elections. He noted that he will be inviting Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, to a meeting soon.
The Head of State assured Ambassador LaRocque that there is no chaos or crisis as a result of the CCJ’s ruling and maintained that the Government will continue to abide by the law.
He outlined the steps taken by the Government since the no-confidence vote of December 21, 2018.
President Granger iterated that the Constitution of Guyana is sacrosanct and supreme while pointing to the independence of the judiciary and respect for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“I assure you that the Government will continue to respect the Constitution, and abide by the law,” the President added, while noting that since the local courts decided that the holders of dual citizenship cannot serve as Members of Parliament, four (former) members of his Government resigned in keeping with that ruling.
“We respect the jurisdiction of the National Assembly, we respect the jurisdiction of the Court,” said President Granger while making it clear that GECOM is an autonomous agency though funded by the Government.
Article 106 (7) of the Constitution of Guyana states that the National Assembly could be summoned to expand the time for the conduct of General and Regional Elections beyond 90 days from the time of the no-confidence vote.
Chief Justice (Ag), Madam Roxane George in the case of the Attorney General v. the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Leader of the Opposition said, “…Parliament is not dissolved as a result of the no-confidence motion. Instead, it is the holding of elections which will be responsible for the dissolution of such a Parliament.”
Moreover, the Head of State reminded that like all entities, the Government has a right to appeal to the judicial branch to interpret cases.
He said Government’s decision to resort to the Court was to bring clarity and certainty to the contentious issues which arose and not as a delay tactic. Additionally, the Constitution of Guyana contemplates continuity of the Government in such circumstances.
President Granger reminded Ambassador LaRocque that he had written to and met the Commissioners of GECOM to urge their readiness to conduct credible elections at the earliest possible time.
The President had asked the Commission to indicate its needs and he was informed of the need for finances to conduct the elections. The National Assembly has since approved the provision of the requested funds to the Commission.
“I cannot direct the Commission or tell them when to be ready…We can only provide money to GECOM by going to Parliament,” the President said while maintaining that credible elections are essential to democracy.
President Granger also met with Mr. Jagdeo twice, earlier this year.
“I am committed to having credible elections in the shortest possible time…but I cannot intrude in GECOM’s work…I cannot proclaim a date unless I am advised by GECOM,” the Head of State said while reminding that Article 62 of the Constitution of Guyana states that elections are to be “independently supervised by the Elections Commission”.
“Elections are important. The CCJ ruling will not be disobeyed,” the President assured Ambassador LaRocque while noting that he does not want a situation where elections are called and the Commission is unprepared.
Ambassador LaRocque thanked President Granger for the brief and committed to provide assistance required within the Secretariat’s scope. CARICOM has consistently provided Observer Missions to Guyana during General and Regional Elections.
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