President continues to blame GECOM for not setting elections date
Laying blame for his delay in calling an election date at the feet of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), President David Granger on Friday addressed the nation in a statement calling for calm and more collaboration across the political divide.
In his address to the nation, President Granger claimed he was “constrained” from naming a date for elections because GECOM has not provided adequate information about its readiness for holding elections.
Referring to recent meetings with GECOM Commissioners, Granger said he has not received the guidance he needs to proclaim a date for elections. According to the President, it would be “reckless” for him to announce a date for elections without being satisfied that the Commission can guarantee credible elections.
“I expect that, with the advice of the Commission and with the support of the Opposition in the National Assembly, I shall be able to proclaim a date as early as possible for the conduct of General and Regional Elections. I have written to the Chairman of the Commission again, demanding the presentation of the ‘work plan’ to me and re-committing the Government to doing everything possible to support the conduct of credible elections…in the shortest time possible,” he informed.
“The Government of Guyana is committed to support the rule of law and respect for civil rights. The Government will remain committed also to ensuring respect for the Constitution and the independence of the institutions of the State,” the President stated.
Granger called for collaboration, and not confrontation, noting that he is prepared to do his part to ensure credible elections within “the shortest time possible” in 2019.
But he made it clear that such decisions are not his alone.
The President also complained about the recent walkouts from meetings by Opposition- nominated commissioners of GECOM, who have been justifying taking this route because of the delaying tactics and insistence on house-to-house registration by the Government-nominated commissioners, which could delay elections by months. In his statement, however, Granger explained, “The Government side, during its engagement with the Elections Commission, gained the impression that considering the small size of the national population, the existing list of electors was ‘inflated’ and needed to be sanitised. It is the Commission’s responsibility to determine how efficiently and how quickly this could be achieved.”
Since the December 21, 2018 passage of the motion of no- confidence against the APNU/AFC Coalition, calls have been made by various stakeholders, including foreign diplomats here, for the Government to abide by the Constitution and set a date for elections.
In fact, earlier this week, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn, in an exclusive interview with Guyana Times, reminded that the clock is ticking on the constitutional three months’ deadline for holding elections. This deadline expires next Thursday.
Additionally, representatives from the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have echoed similar calls in February for the Guyana Government to adhere to the Constitution.
With less than six days remaining before the 90-day deadline expires, the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has written several international bodies, asking that they do not recognise the Coalition Government after March 21.