Jagdeo urges GECOM Chair to ‘walk the talk’, act decisively

Impending election date

…says Chair should have long removed Granger’s excuses by advising him

Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair retired Justice Claudette Singh has previously been reported as telling the parliamentary Opposition that she is hopeful of carrying out elections by this year end.

Opposition Leader
Bharrat Jagdeo
GECOM Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh

According to the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Bharrat Jagdeo, it is now time for the Chair to ‘walk the talk’. This is even as she is expected to advise President David Granger today on a timeframe for holding elections.
Justice Singh “needs to act now, consistent with our Constitution, the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and her statement to both Government and Opposition parties that she is working to have elections before the end of the year,” he said in a statement on Wednesday evening.
According to Jagdeo, September 18, 2019 was a “red line” day for Guyana, by which time, as referenced by the CCJ, General and Regional Elections should have been held.
The Opposition Leader pointed out that the GECOM Chair should have long removed President Granger’s excuse for avoiding naming a date for elections while he waited for GECOM’s advice, by writing him to advise about their readiness to hold elections before the end of the year.
“She has not done so thus far. To my surprise at this late hour in the evening of the 18th of September, another biased press release is sent out by GECOM seeking to blame an Opposition Commissioner for not submitting a timeline for elections at today’s meeting and saying that the Chair will make a decision tomorrow on the basis of a proposal submitted by Mr Corbin”.
The Commissioners representing the Opposition, he added, made a conscious decision not to submit another proposal at this time which would have invariably triggered another round of protracted discussion designed to delay a decision being made when the primary purpose of the meeting was to authorise the Chair to write the caretaker President before the end of the day.
Jagdeo went on to question exactly what GECOM was doing for the past few weeks if not settling on a timeframe for elections. He pointed out that there are previous proposals which, if adjusted for time, can deliver elections by year end.
“The Chairwoman must act decisively now. She must end the prevarication of the Secretariat – which had advised the CCJ that even with a full House-to-House Registration exercise they would’ve been ready to hold elections before the end of the year – and stop the delaying tactics of the APNU/AFC,” the Party said.
After receiving proposals from the Government and Opposition side, it was announced that Justice Singh will make a final decision on the timeframe for elections today and communicate same to President Granger.
This was announced by both Opposition and Government-nominated Commissioners at the conclusion of a meeting on Wednesday. While the opposition has insisted elections could be held this year, the government commissioners have been pushing for elections next year.
President Granger has repeatedly said that he was awaiting the advice of GECOM before he can set an election date. This was repeated in an address to the nation on Monday following a meeting with Carter Center representatives… a meeting during which he promised the organisation not to delay but to act swiftly once GECOM advises him.
During the address, President Granger repeated the substance of previous statements; that GECOM is an independent agency and that he has to await advice from GECOM before he can name an election date.
The constitutional deadline for holding elections, as set out by the CCJ, has meanwhile expired as of Wednesday. When it made its July 18 ruling on the no confidence cases, the CCJ had said that the effect of the No-Confidence Motion was on pause while the cases were being litigated.
That process, CCJ President Adrian Saunders had clearly said, was no longer on pause following the court’s June 18, 2019 ruling, which upheld the validity of the No-Confidence Motion and, thus, triggered the need for fresh elections.
In keeping with the constitutional three-month provision once a No-Confidence Motion is passed, this would mean that General and Regional Elections should have been held on or before September 18, 2019.