Int’l community pledges technical support for free and fair elections in Guyana
Now that President David Granger has identified March 2, 2020, as the date of the elections, the international community has pledged to provide support to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as it carries out its mandate.
This was communicated in a joint statement that featured British High Commissioner Gregory Quinn, United States (US) Ambassador Sarah Ann-Lynch and Head of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Guyana, Fernando Ponz Canto.
Stressing the need for free and fair elections, the diplomats added that this support would take the form of “elections assistance and monitoring along with other colleagues in the international community”.
Meanwhile, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) also hailed the announcement of an election date, acknowledging the support given from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo towards the date.
“In this vein, we take the opportunity to acknowledge the support of the Opposition Leader of the date. We now look forward to an incident-free process toward the holding of a free, transparent and credible elections,” the GMSA added.
After almost a year of procrastination following his Government’s defeat to a No-Confidence Motion, President David Granger on Wednesday announced March 2, 2020, as the “earliest possible” date for elections.
At the time, the President was under increasing pressure to name an election date; something he had promised to do after he was advised by GECOM. Granger was briefed by GECOM Chair, retired Justice Claudette Singh, that the agency would be able to hold elections at the end of February.
It was only on Monday that the Commonwealth became the latest in a line of organisations to urge the President to call elections immediately. Similar calls also came from the United States, British and European Union diplomatic representatives.
In his address to the nation, Granger had, however, noted that there will be a return to the National Assembly in order to seek an extension of time for his Government in office. According to the President, the Government of Guyana “must, as a consequence, return to the National Assembly to request an extension. The National Assembly reconvenes on 10th October 2019”.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has repeatedly affirmed that it would not return to the National Assembly to grant the Government the two-thirds vote it needs to extend its life in power.
During an interview on a radio show, “The Hot Seat”, on Tuesday, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had expressed his belief that the real motive for the Government seeking an extension is to cover actions taken outside of the scope of a caretaker Government, during the months after it lost the no-confidence vote.
The President subsequently clarified that the election date will be March 2, 2020, whether the Opposition extends his Government’s life or not. However, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has put little faith in this, saying at a press conference that a signed proclamation will hold more weight.
Meanwhile, it was announced by GECOM on Tuesday last that Claims and Objections will start on October 1 – a necessary move towards having an Official List of Electors (OLE) to conduct elections.
At the time, it was announced that GECOM would engage the United States (US) and the Commonwealth to inform them of which observers they will be sending. It was also announced that the exercise would last for 35 days, with the qualifying date to be eligible to vote being December 31.
That was turned on its head by a press release from GECOM on Friday, in which it was stated that the Claims and Objections exercise will actually last for 49 days. Additional criteria were imposed, such as the need for everyone to verify their registration regardless of whether they are registered registrants or not.