GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – President, Donald Samotar, Saturday, announced that general elections will be held next year and that the country’s election commission will be notified so that it could begin making the necessary preparations.
Ramotar told a news conference that he would probably announce the election date in his New Year’s address or before Mashramani, an annual festival that celebrates Guyana becoming a Republic in 1970. It is usually held on February 23.
“Early in the New Year I intend to announce further steps towards the direction and regional elections in Guyana,” he said
“I have considered and I have consulted and this is my resolve. We will go to elections. I have also since written to the international community alerting them to the possibility of early elections and the desire for them to field observer missions,” he added.
He told reporters he was also confident of being returned to power with a “clear majority”. The last general election was held here on November 28, 2011.
Ramotar, who is likely to be the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) choice for presidential candidate, prorogued Parliament last month after the opposition legislators, who control a one-seat majority in the 65-legislative Chamber, signalled that they were not prepared to support the policies of the government.
The opposition parties – A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) – have filed a motion of no confidence in the government, which they wanted debated following the annual summer recess.
But Ramotar justified the decision to prorogue Parliament saying he had earlier indicated a desire for the National Assembly, in its post-recess sittings, to deliberate and give priority to important matters relating to the development of the country.
A last minute effort by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) to break the political deadlock failed after the opposition parties blanked the idea of holding any talks with the government.
“We want Parliament to be convened and when it’s convened, we are going to put up another no-confidence motion. We want elections,” AFC Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan told the Guyana-based Caribbean News Desk.
Opposition Leader, David Granger, said he did not anticipate any major announcement from Ramotar when he meets with the media, telling reporters “the ball, as you say in tennis, is entirely in the president’s court.”
The PSC had proposed that President Ramotar lift the parliamentary suspension no later than December 31, 2014, in exchange for the opposition shelving its no-confidence motion and participating in talks to be observed by business sector representatives.
“Although I admire the energy and enthusiasm of the Private Sector Commission, this letter could well have been directed to the President alone, because it is the opposition that has been knocking at the door for inclusionary democracy for the last three years … so it is difficult to see what the opposition can do, so I am not sure that this initiative will go very far,” Granger said.
Ramotar told reporters that he would be consulting with the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) about its readiness for holding the election, saying he had decided against announcing a date Saturday, because he did not want to affect the Christmas Season.
“We will not disrupt and dampen the Christmas Season with the evident purpose-less parliamentary debates.”