President David Granger has issued the proclamation for the dissolution of Parliament. The announcement came after Guyana Elections Commission Chair Retired Justice Claudette Singh and Commissioners informed him that the elections body is on track for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections. A proclamation was also issued for the dissolution of the 10 Regional Democratic Councils (RDC) on December 30, 2019.
The proclamations were issued on Friday.
Pressure has been mounting on the caretaker President to also dissolve the 11th Parliament and only recently, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo told reporters that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) will resume protest actions if Granger does not dissolve Parliament in December.
According to Article 61 of the Constitution, “An election of members of the National Assembly under Article 60 (2) shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by Proclamation”.
In a statement following the proclamation, the Ministry of the Presidency said that Article 70 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana states that the President, may at any time, by proclamation dissolve Parliament.
The Proclamation for the dissolution of Parliament states, “In exercise of the powers conferred upon me by the aforesaid articles, I do hereby dissolve the Eleventh Parliament of Guyana on the Thirtieth day of December, Two Thousand and Nineteen and appoint the Second day of March, Two Thousand and Twenty, as the day on which the election of members of the National Assembly shall be held, the issue and publication of any other Proclamation pursuant to the Constitution in this regard notwithstanding,” the proclamation states.
The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) coalition has been acting as a caretaker Government since the December 21, 2018 passage of the No-Confidence Motion (NCM). Following the successful toppling, the Government has been criticised for what has been described as delaying tactics.
Following the passage, members of the coalition Government had evidently accepted defeat and President David Granger had committed to having early elections. But then, the Government mounted a legal challenge, claiming that it was not defeated by the No-Confidence Motion, that 33 did not form the majority of the 65-member House.
The legal challenge made it all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which upheld the passage of the motion, with Justice Winston Anderson lamenting the slothfulness in the preparation for elections, which ought to have been held by March 21, 2019 – in keeping with the Guyana Constitution.
Apart from the ruling on the motion, the CCJ also handed down a landmark ruling on the appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as the Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission.
According to the CCJ, the appointment, which was done unilaterally by the President, was unconstitutional.
Thus, began the long dance between the Head-of-State and the Opposition Leader to select a new GECOM Chairman.
Eventually, Retired Justice Claudette Singh was mutually agreed upon and appointed, and the preparations for elections commenced.
Prior to the CCJ ruling on this matter, however, GECOM – on the orders of Justice Patterson – began a lengthy House-to-House Registration process, despite lack of Opposition support – which was eventually halted following a court ruling.
Elections are expected to be held on March 2, 2020 – more than a year after the Government was defeated by the No-Confidence Motion.