The Coalition Government says it is very clear about its role in in the lead-up to elections, following the recent rulings and orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
According to CCJ earlier this month in its consequential orders, Government should adopt a caretaker role.
The Government has interpreted that to mean and afterwards described itself as an “interim government”.
Under Article 106 of the Constitution, the supreme law of Guyana, it says that the Government shall resign if defeated by a vote of a majority of the elected members of the National Assembly on vote of confidence.
However, the same Article said that the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election in three months.
There has been much debate on what the Coalition Government can and cannot do in the interim.
According to President David Granger on Friday, during a taped interview of ‘Public Interest’, the Coalition Government is acting correctly and in good faith.
“I would not have met…I would not have set up a working group which met several times in three weeks unless I was acting in good faith and unless I was interested in a favourable outcome for both sides.”
He explained that while nothing in the Constitution addresses “interim status”, in the Westminster model of government, like in Canada and Australia, an interim government means that Guyana may not, for example, pass a budget.
“We obviously have to keep government running. We have to limit our expenditure. We have to ensure we don’t embark on any controversial projects.”
Granger said that it means that he cannot also undertake state visits and sign agreements with foreign countries.
“So there are about half a dozen conventions that we have to comply (with) to ensure that Government restrains expenditure…restrains its actions. It does not mean that Government is out of office…it does not mean that Government ceases to function. There cannot be a void…you cannot have a country that is ungoverned.”
According to Granger, his administration is aware of the international conventions with both the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the CCJ citing an expert in their rulings- these principles are being abided.
“We accept the status of an interim government and we are not going to breach the convention.
The President believed that all his actions thus far were within the scope of his office.
“We have consulted with the Opposition. We have accepted the status of an interim administration. We have set out that the process for the selection of a Chairman of GECOM is expedited. We have gone back to the National Assembly and provided GECOM with the funds…and I have said I will await GECOM announcement or GECOM will advise me when elections could be held so that as soon as I get that information, I will proclaim a date for elections.”
Granger cited the example the April 25 loss of four of his ministers because they were dual citizens.
The ministers were Joseph Harmon, Carl Greenidge, Dominic Gaskin and Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine.
“It was very painful to me but I complied with the law. So in every respect, everything that has happened for the year, in fact since December, has been in accordance with the law.”
Responding to questions about the what he means by credible elections, a word that has been introduced into debate, President Granger said it is widely accepted that the Voters’ List is bloated with far too many persons on the list who may be ineligible.
“We believe that many people who are not on the list are eligible and should be on the list.”
He said that there has been growing calls not only from his party- the People’s National Congress Reform, but also from the Coalition itself for house-to-house registration.
The controversial, countrywide process to “sanitise” the list began yesterday with the Opposition announcing plans to challenge it in the courts.
“I have seen GECOM, not on my instructions, that they will embark on house-to-house registration from July 20. These are not my doings. These are the doings of the Elections Commission and I support them that we should have a clean and credible list.
“In any event, at this stage, only the Elections Commission has the authority to run elections. Not the executive… not the National Assembly…not the President.”
Granger made it clear that he will abide with the advice of the Elections Commission when to call elections.
“Right now, it is only the Elections Commission can determine the time and the form of the elections and I am prepared to abide by their decisions.”
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