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Guyana Opposition Leader Outlines Terms For Meeting With President

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo (left), extends an "olive branch" -- with conditions -- to President David Granger (right). Photo credit: CMC.

Guyana Opposition Leader Outlines Terms For Meeting With President

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 5, 2019 (CMC) – Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, has presented a number of proposals, which he wants President David Granger to agree to, before he accepts his invitation to meet, tomorrow.

Jagdeo sent a letter, dated March 4, to State Minister, Joseph Harmon, responding to a request from the President for a meeting, on Wednesday, to discuss the possibility of extending the deadline, by which general elections should be held, and also funding for the polls.

Harmon had said in the invitation letter, last week, that on the proposed agenda for the meeting are the National Assembly’s constitutional role in the current situation, and the readiness and requirements of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for poll funding to enable it to conduct general and regional elections.

“The President wishes to advise that he has written to the Chairman of GECOM, urging him to initiate arrangements for the conduct of general and regional elections, and committing to support his request for financing those elections,” Harmon said, in the letter to Jagdeo.

GECOM has said it cannot hold credible elections within that time frame that is being suggested by the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and is suggesting the polls could most likely be held in July.

But the Opposition Leader, who has been calling for the elections to be held no later than March 19, in keeping with the Guyana Constitution, following the successful tabling of a motion of no confidence against the government last December, has outlined the conditions under which a meeting would be held with Granger.

In his letter, Jagdeo said “As I have publicly stated, and, herein, reiterated, that the Guyana Constitution is the supreme law of Guyana, and therefore the proposed meeting, can only and must only focus on ensuring that the Constitution is not violated and that general and regional elections are held in accordance with Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) following the December 21, 2018 passage of the no confidence motion”.

Under the constitution, elections must be held within 90 days, following the passage of the motion or unless extended by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly.

Jagdeo wrote that he is proposing that the date for the elections be held “before the expiration of the present voters list on April 30, 2019”, and that the coalition government does not enter into no new contracts after March 21 this year.

In addition, he is also saying no new agreements, loans, grants, land leases “or any other such agreement” should be entered into, after March 21, and that there should be “no abuse of state resources for partisan activities/purposes”.

Jagdeo is also calling for “access to state-owned media by all contesting political parties”.

He said “only on agreement by your government to these proposals, the parliamentary Opposition will be prepared to lend its support, for the two-thirds majority required, to comply with Article 106(7) for an extension beyond March 21, 2019”.

“I therefore, am proposing that the meeting focus on the date for these elections,” he wrote, adding that he believes that his proposal “to hold general and regional elections before April 30, 2019 is reasonable and feasible, with a claims and objection period, provided that GECOM acts in good faith  and in conformity with its mandate  and the Constitution,” he added.

“This proposal will ensure that the Constitution remains intact and prevents our nation slipping into a constitution crisis,” Jagdeo said, adding that if the proposals meet with the approval of the President, he will then be ready to meet on Wednesday, as originally planned “or any other time”.

“However, time is of the essence, March 21, 2019, when the government becomes unconstitutional, is fast approaching,” Jagdeo wrote in his letter.

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