Opposition to write Caricom, OAS on political crisis

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has echoed plans to officially write the Caribbean Community (Caricom), the Commonwealth and the Organisation of American States (OAS) to inform them about the political situation in Guyana, as well as the impending constitutional crisis.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

Speaking at his weekly press conference on Thursday, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary explained that the letter will basically inform these organisations as to the situation in the country but not to request any specific action.
Jagdeo has already engaged Caricom Secretary General Irwin LaRocque on the issue.
The decision to alert these organisations comes one day after the meeting between President David Granger and Jagdeo which ended in stalemate without an election date being set.
The Opposition has already engaged the diplomatic corps having met with representatives from the ABC countries – United States of America (USA); United Kingdom (UK), and Canada as well as the European Union (EU).
“I’ve not asked for any role so far. It’s premature to talk about mediation but Caricom must see it fit the same way when we had a crisis in 1997, a crisis that they (the Opposition) caused by street protests, by a refusal to accept the results of elections although the margin was nearly 30,000 votes and they took the streets and they burnt buildings, etcetera. So that is the track record,” he said.
Already, the EU’s local mission revealed it was keeping an eye on developments following the vote. The EU urged that democratic procedures and the rule of law be respected and upheld.
The EU also called for free and fair elections to be held and for the Guyana Government to follow all requirements outlined in the Constitution following the December 21, 2018 no-confidence vote.
Jagdeo has maintained his position that the Opposition will not extend the life of the Government, while demanding that elections be held on or before April 30.
This decision comes at a time when Government has a few more days left before it becomes illegal or unconstitutional. The 90 days following the successful passage of the No-confidence Motion will be March 21.
President Granger on the other hand has claimed that he cannot set a date for elections unless GECOM is ready, while claiming that he cannot interfere with the Commission’s work.
He plans to meet with the Commission today to determine its readiness. But Jagdeo said he was disappointed that he was invited to a meeting to be told that, suggesting that the President could have written him about that.

The Opposition Leader reminded that President Granger unilaterally appointed a Chairman of his choice outside from the 18 names supplied by three lists to him. That person is retired Justice James Patterson.
On this basis, he said GECOM is no longer an independent Commission, because “the President violated the delicate balance that should have been the chairperson.”
“So, you have four persons who take instructions from APNU (A Partnership for National Unity) and if you look at the behaviour of the four persons they have blocked any attempt to even start preparations for elections,” referring to Patterson and the Government-appointed Commissioners which includes Vincent Alexander, Desmond Trotman and Charles Corbin.
Jagdeo also feels that the country’s democracy now depends on readiness of GECOM. The Commission has been pushing for house-to-house registration. However, the Opposition has also maintained that his party will not support house-to-house registration because it could delay the elections for at least eight months.
The PPP General Secretary has also suggested that in order to address fears of electoral fraud, Government should fund three polling agents from their representative parties to work at each polling station to ensure that only people who are eligible to vote do so.
Asked whether he would explore legal options against GECOM, Jagdeo said it is something being considered but he doesn’t want to cause any more delays in the system. “The Government likes to use the court to delay although the Constitution is quite clear. You’ve seen how many excuses GECOM has made.”
A high-level meeting between the Opposition Leader and the President ended in stalemate on Wednesday as the issue regarding the date for an election was not addressed, placing Guyana on the path of a major constitutional crisis.