GECOM chair acknowledges first letter from President supersedes second
– emergency meeting ended abruptly
Chairman of the Guyana Elections (GECOM), retired Justice James Patterson has acknowledged that the first letter that was dispatched by President David Granger supersedes the second and therefore its contents stand.
Following the revelation of the varying letters, on Thursday, an emergency meeting was summoned after which the PPP Commissioner on the elections body released a statement on the issue.
See full statement below: At a statutory meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission held on February 26, 2019, a letter written by President David Granger was provided to Commissioners. The said letter, dated February 25, 2019, was presented to Commissioners upon arrival at the meeting. The letter, inter alia, urged the Guyana Elections Commission to commence preparations for the holding of General and Regional Elections. On February 28, 2019, attention was drawn by the Leader of the Opposition to the existence of a second letter, purportedly under the hand of President David Granger, also dated February 25, 2019. Commissioner Bibi Shadick made contact with the office of the Chairman of GECOM and requested a copy of correspondence received by the Chairman from the President. An email was received from the office of the Chairman of GECOM at 13:07h on February 28, in which the one letter was attached. At a meeting of the Commission held on Thursday at 15:00h, an inquiry was made about the existence of a second letter and the Chairman only then confirmed the existence of a second letter. Copies were hurriedly made and provided to Commissioners.
We believe this ‘second letter’ was only sent to GECOM after it was exposed at the press conference of the Leader of the Opposition that the letter posted on the Ministry of the Presidency’s website significantly differed in content from the one circulated to Commissioners on February 26. No previous mention was made of this second letter nor was any effort made to present copies thereof to Commissioners. A discussion on the content of this second letter ensued and upon inquiry, the Chairman responded that it was not his opinion that the second letter superseded the first. Commissioner Vincent Alexander then tendered the view that it did supersede the first. Thereafter, a request was made by Commissioner Shadick for the Secretariat to provide a plan for preparation for the holding of elections, in keeping with the urging of the President. At this point, Commissioners Alexander and Trotman insisted that any such plan must include house-to-house registration. This flies in the face of the urgent need, as prescribed by the Constitution of Guyana, to hold elections within three months of the successful passage of a vote of no-confidence. Further, it can only be seen as another act in the series of dilatory tactics employed by certain Commissioners and the secretariat of GECOM to derail this important and constitutionally mandated timeframe. Having become very obvious that there was no plan to be discussed regarding the preparation for elections, the we were left no option but to walk out of the meeting.
This was confirmed in a statement from GECOM where Public Relations Officer Yolanda Ward explained that Thursday’s special meeting was convened to discuss and approve the work schedule derived from the approved work plan for 2019 which was submitted by the secretariat.