GEORGETOWN, Guyana, March 6, 2019 (CMC) – President, David Granger, today, described his meeting with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, to discuss the ongoing political situation in Guyana, as “useful and fruitful”, and has sought to assure Guyanese that efforts are being made to ensure credible regional and general elections are held in the country, “in the shortest time possible”.
Granger and Jagdeo met for just over an hour and, according to Granger, “both sides are working towards the solution of the issues, which now confront us; and I think we had a very positive approach”.
Jagdeo has been calling for fresh regional and general elections to be held by March 19, in keeping with the provisions of the Guyana Constitution, following the successful tabling of the motion of no confidence against the Granger-led coalition administration on December 21, last year.
Under the Guyana Constitution elections must be held 90 days after the successful passage of the motion of no confidence or it could be extended based on a special majority in the National Assembly.
The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has said it cannot hold credible elections within that time frame as being suggested by the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and is suggesting the polls could most likely be held in July.
In a statement, following the meeting, Granger said there are four processes taking place namely, the importance of the National Assembly, the judicial process, the executive process and GECOM.
“The engagement this morning focussed largely on the role of GECOM, because it is only GECOM, an independent agency, which could determine when elections could be held,” Granger said, adding that the president or anybody “cannot intervene, cannot intrude, cannot interfere with the work of GECOM”.
“So we have to allow GECOM to do its work. In that regard, the Leader of the Opposition was insistent that a date be set and, in all fairness, he is prepared to vary the date, based on a vote by the National Assembly”.
Granger said that on February 25, he had written to the GECOM Chairman, retired Justice James Patterson “indicating that I am prepared to enter into consultations with him to ensure that credible elections are held in a short a time as possible.
“I would like to meet him again. In fact I would like to meet the entire Commission to determine what their needs are, in terms of time and money. So the door is open, the Leader of the Opposition has agreed to meet again, the people of Guyana could be assured that we are working to ensure that credible elections are held in the shortest time possible”.
Granger insisted that “there is no crisis”, but acknowledged that “there are issues, which have to be resolved, and most of those issues will depend on what I hear from GECOM, when I consult them”.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who appeared with Granger, said that he would be meeting with GECOM to determine when best the meeting could take place, “but it is going to have to be done within the next three to four days, so that we could get from GECOM their readiness for the delivery of credible elections.
“It is about delivering credible elections and not just any elections that will end up creating more confusion than they solve problems,” he added.
Granger sought to reiterate that GECOM is an autonomous, independent agency “and there’s no part of the Constitution, which gives the President or the executive…authority to interfere, intervene or intrude in the work of the Election Commission”.
He said the plan is to arrange as soon as possible the meeting “so that the Guyanese people can be satisfied that we are moving towards elections”.
But he reminded the population that the issue could also be determined on “what will take place in the courts”, where the government has appealed the ruling of the High Court that the December 21 motion of no confidence was valid, and has refused to issue a conservatory order, halting the countdown to the 90-day election deadline.
“We are moving towards elections but GECOM is in charge of the elections, not the executive. I cannot decide when elections will be held,” Granger said.