President David Granger yesterday insisted that the Coalition is not in breach of the Constitution.
The president also made it clear that the western diplomats should allow his Government to resolve the current election issues.
The comments would come yesterday, hours after the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) disclosed that it has written Granger informing him that the earliest possible date for elections is February month-end.
The Opposition yesterday descended on Pegasus Hotel, following the news, to protest President Granger who was set to deliver the feature address at a private sector luncheon.
A number of the Opposition supporters, including former Finance Minister, Juan Edghill, even ended up in the hotel, waiting for the President to speak before chanting loudly of the Government’s “illegal status”. They were escorted out by the police.
The United States, United Kingdom and European Union yesterday called on the President to fix elections immediately.
The western diplomats said it “regret” that, by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders.
Questioned after the forum at Pegasus yesterday on the statements of the diplomats, the president refuted this.
“My only response is the Government is abiding by the Constitution in the sense that it has allowed the Elections Commission, an autonomous agency, to do its work. I have received a letter from the Elections Commission Chairman Justice (ret’d), Claudette Singh, and I shall be meeting my Cabinet in a few minutes to discuss the letter.”
According to Granger, the Constitution is very clear on the functions of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“I would be in more grievous breach of the Constitution if I try to interfere in the work of the Commission.”
The Government has been insisting that the President of Guyana can only call elections when advised by GECOM of its readiness.
Early elections were necessitated by a December 21st shock no-confidence vote against the Government that was deemed by the courts to be legal.
It has triggered elections to be held within three months.
However, court challenges and now GECOM’s readiness have placed uncertainty on the elections with the Opposition raising the pressure.
With Guyana about to enter oil production for the first time, the stakes are high.
“So I will advise the foreign delegation or foreign missions to allow the Government of Guyana to resolve the issues,” Granger said yesterday in a clear message stating that the urgings of the missions may have been too early.
“We have heard from the Chairman of the Commission and I am very confident that she is a very prudent and sober retired judge who will recommend to me a date which the Guyanese people are prepared to accept but I cannot hold elections unless I receive advice that the Commission is ready.”
Granger warned that there could be a situation similar to Nigeria where an elections date was set but had to be postponed because the elections body was not ready.
“I am confident that the Commission and Chairman in deliberate judgment will give me advice which will ensure credible elections.”
Asked if he has received advice, the president said he will not be discussing the contents of the letter until he receives an advice from his Cabinet.
He would not say whether the letter from GECOM is an advice.
“As far as I am concerned the Government of Guyana is complying with the Constitution of Guyana. I have said what I have said about the receipt of the letter from the Chairman of the Elections Commission. It is impossible for the Executive to run the elections. We will not allow the Executive to intrude. I will not print ballot paper. I will not train Returning Officers. It is the job of an agency. Let the agency do its work.”
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