President David Granger is refusing to call elections, continuing to insist yesterday that he is awaiting advice from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The statements would come as Granger addressed the nation on elections and met a delegation of the Carter Centre, which is here to be updated on the current road to early elections brought on by a successful no-confidence vote against the Coalition Government last December.
The vote, challenged and deemed legal in the courts, has necessitated early elections according to law, but the administration insists that GECOM has to advise it on its readiness so that the President can dissolve Parliament and fix a date.
According to President Granger in his address to the nation, the Elections Commission has exclusive and explicit responsibility for the conduct of general and regional elections in accordance with the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (at Article 62).
It has been a stance of the administration for several months now.
According to Granger, the Constitution (at Article 162 (1) I) states, further, that: “…The Elections Commission shall have such functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections…”
He reiterated that the Elections Commission is insulated from political influence, instruction or interference and its independence is safeguarded by the Constitution.
“The independence of the Commission and the integrity of the electoral process are essential to ensuring elections which express the will of the electorate. I am committed to providing governmental assistance to the Commission to ensure that the forthcoming elections will not be contaminated by mismanagement or malpractice.”
He said that the Elections Commission has a constitutional obligation, therefore, to ensure that everything necessary would be done to deliver credible elections.
“It is the Commission’s task to ensure that adequate resources are acquired; personnel are employed; the Official List of Electors which enfranchises all eligible voters is published; administrative mechanisms to ensure efficient polling and the counting and tabulation of results are implemented; and that the laws of Guyana are enforced.”
The president noted that he has emphasised, repeatedly, that the imperative has been to provide every assistance to the Commission to enable it to conduct “credible elections at the earliest time possible.”
“My position remains unaltered. I have acted expeditiously throughout the year to ensure that credible general and regional elections are held. I consulted the Elections Commission on two occasions. I consulted the Leader of the Opposition on three occasions to select a new Chairman of the Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution (at Article 161 (1)). I appointed Justice Claudette Singh, SC, CCH, as Chairman of the Commission and administered the Oath of Office to her on 29th July 2019.”
Granger made it clear that he has full confidence in the Chairman’s independence, integrity and impartiality, and her intention and ability to perform the functions of her office in the best interest of the Guyanese people.
“A Governmental team met the Chairman and Commissioners of the Elections Commission on Friday 13th September 2019 to ascertain its readiness to conduct the elections. A Parliamentary Opposition team met the Commission, also, on Tuesday 10th September. We are assured that the Commission is doing everything possible to prepare to conduct credible elections at the earliest time possible.”
Granger urged that the Elections Commission must be allowed to continue the task of preparing for the forthcoming general and regional elections.
“The Commission has an obligation to assure the public that it is ready to conduct credible elections and to advise the President of its readiness to do so. I could then dissolve Parliament and issue a proclamation appointing a date on which elections could be held in accordance with the Constitution.”
Granger said that it would be reckless and irresponsible, on his part, to appoint a date for elections without the Commission’s advice and assurance that it would be ready to conduct elections on such a date.
“I call on all Guyanese to have confidence in the Elections Commission. I am ready to be guided by the Chairman’s assessment of the Commission’s preparedness to conduct elections.
“I urge everyone to uphold the Constitution and respect the judgment of our independent institutions and the people who have been appointed to manage them. I look forward to the Commission’s recommendation to conduct credible elections at the earliest time possible.”
Meanwhile, Granger also met with representatives of the Carter Centre at State House.
During the meeting, the President assured the representatives that he will act decisively on receiving advice from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as to its readiness to conduct General and Regional Elections.
The Carter Centre representatives over the last week have met with Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo and the Chair and Commissioners of the Elections Commission.
President Granger was accompanied by Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence who last Friday led a ministerial delegation at a meeting with the Chair and Commissioners of GECOM, and Minister of State, Dawn Hastings-Williams.
The Carter Centre was represented by Ms. Brett Lacy, Associate Director of Democracy Programmes; Mr. Carlos Valenzuela, Senior Advisor and International Electoral Expert; Ms. Anne Marlborough, Legal Analyst and Mr. Nicholas Jahr, Political Advisor.
The Centre has been observing and helping Guyana with elections since the 1990s.
Meanwhile, attorney-at-law, Sanjeev Datadin, who has represented the Opposition on the no-confidence court cases, said that the statement yesterday by President Granger to the effect that he is awaiting word from GECOM to dissolve Parliament and fix an election date is seriously flawed.
“It’s simply ridiculous. There is no law or convention that requires the President to consult with GECOM before he dissolves Parliament. The Constitution is clear, upon the no-confidence motion being approved by Parliament, the President must dissolve Parliament and elections must be held in three months. The President must obey the Constitution and do nothing else.”
According to Datadin, the President’s statement that he must consult GECOM is an error, or worse, it’s a transparent attempt to delay elections again.
“The Constitution requires the President to dissolve Parliament, and he must do so and name a date for election. If GECOM cannot be ready for election by that date then they must so declare. Only then does the readiness arise. It arises after Parliament is dissolved, not before.”
According to the lawyer, this “caretaker” President previously consulted his unilaterally -appointed Chairman of GECOM, Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson about a date, and received a rather startling letter in response stating that GECOM was not going to meet its constitutional mandate.
“That was a sham and it must be recognised as such. It was intended to delay the election and defeat the provisions of the constitution. This charade by the president ought not to be allowed to continue and the breach of the Constitution must stop.”
THE CONTINUED PARROTING OF EXCUSES
Meanwhile, in a press statement issued last evening the opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) blasted Granger for what it called ”the continued parroting of excuses voiced by the caretaker president, David Granger, during an address to the nation on Monday (September 16, 2019), which was astoundingly riddled with distortions”.
“While all Guyanese are clear that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is an independent commission, it must be reiterated that GECOM is also subservient to the very Constitution that guarantees its independence. However, as has been evidenced before, the caretaker president conveniently ignores this fact and attempts to convey the impression that GECOM, being an independent body, can afford to ignore its obligation to comply with the Constitution of Guyana.”
The Party continued: “In its order after ruling that the no-confidence motion was validly passed on December 21, 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), on July 12, 2019, was clear that: “The Guyana Elections Commission (“GECOM”) has the responsibility to conduct that election and GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution.”
“While the caretaker president also repeats his line about “credible elections within the shortest possible time” he has done nothing to comply with the constitutional provisions that became activated with the passage of the no-confidence motion.
“The Caribbean Court of Justice had ordered that: the provisions of Article 106(6) and (7) of the Constitution apply to a No Confidence motion; and that upon the passage of this motion of no confidence in the Government, the clear provisions of Article 106 immediately became engaged.
“The caretaker president remains deliberately oblivious to this order. As per Article 106 of the Constitution, the Cabinet has not resigned. Also, the Granger-led government has not been acting in a caretaker capacity – rather it has been deliberately delaying the elections while engaging in a heist of taxpayers’ monies and public resources in the most corrupt acts our people have seen in Guyanese history,” the PPP/C asserted.
“The caretaker president claims that he acted “expeditiously” to ensure that credible and regional elections are held and to substantiate this, he referred to the meetings that led to the appointment of a new GECOM Chairperson. The caretaker president seems to have selective amnesia, forgetting that it was his illegal action – the unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman – that led to the need for a new appointment in the first place.
The caretaker president talks up his assurance in the actions of his Commission to ready itself for constitutionally mandated General and Regional Elections – which ought to have been held since March 21, 2019 – even as his minions at the Elections Commission advance actions that will delay Elections. How then can the Commission act expeditiously to advise on its readiness for Elections?
The caretaker president must do the decent thing and be faithful to the spirit and letter of the Constitution,” the statement concluded.
May 30, 2020In a statement from Stirling Hamman, Chairman of the Over-50s Cricket World Cup Committee, the body has indicated that the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a major rethink of the sporting...
May 30, 2020
May 30, 2020
May 29, 2020
May 29, 2020
May 28, 2020
After pointing out that there were foreign citizens serving in Guyana’s parliament, Nagamootoo went on to add; “…... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Caribbean countries are, once again, being placed in a difficult position as they try to navigate... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]