Home Top Stories President ignores constitutional directive for March 19 elections date
…says will wait on Appellate Courts before setting election date
With little over a month left before the constitutionally mandated date for hosting of elections expires, Minister of State Joseph Harmon says President David Granger is awaiting the outcome of the Appellate Courts before he sets a date for the hosting of General and Regional Elections.
Harmon was at the time addressing the media at a post plenary press conference on Friday. He was asked directly what is stopping the President from announcing an election date.
Such a step would therefore give the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) both Legislative and Executive election date targets to prepare for.
“Matters have been filed in the court in relation to this matter. These matters are still alive in the court. Therefore it would be premature for the President to say I am calling an election and these matters are still engaging the attention of our courts.”
While he acknowledged to the media that there is no stay on the judgement against their Cabinet meetings, Harmon maintained that the Government and President continue to function.
Harmon was also asked if President David Granger would be reaching out to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, to request a meeting. At a press conference on Thursday, Jagdeo had made it clear that he would not be seeking a meeting with the President.
Jagdeo had noted that President Granger needs to set an election date and that the Opposition will not return to the National Assembly unless it’s for election business. According to the Minister, however, President Granger has never shut the door on talks with the Opposition Leader.
“You would recall the last time the two parties met; it was at the request of the Leader of the Opposition. And when he made that request, I asked him to cite the items he wants discussed on the agenda.”
“The President meets with the Leader of the Opposition to deal with serious business of the State. It is in that capacity as Leader of the Opposition that he meets with the President. As far as I am aware, the President has always made himself available to meet with the Leader of the Opposition.”
Harmon was also unable to say when Government would seek to have the National Assembly convened to extend the election timeline. When questioned by the media, the Minister said the National Assembly will be called when important matters are on the agenda to be discussed. When asked if elections and extending the 90-day timeline were not important matters, Harmon backpedalled.
“Yes elections are an important matter. Do you require Parliament to be called right now? What is it that you want Parliament to be called about elections? You are aware that these matters are in the court.”
“There’s actually an application for a stay of execution, which will be dealt with either Tuesday or Wednesday of next week… so there is action taking place. Timelines are being set for certain things. Therefore it is premature to be stating that elections are this or that.”
Since the passage of the No-confidence Motion in December of last year, there have been several inconclusive meetings at GECOM to determine a timeline for elections; a timeline that would take elections well past March was eventually announced. However, the parliamentary Opposition has not warmed to this proposed timeframe.
The three-month time frame in which the polls should be held was validated in a judicial interpretation by acting Chief Justice Roxane George, who declared that the motion was validly passed 33-32.
The complaint has been that GECOM was unforthcoming about its preparedness for the mandatory elections despite being mandated by the Constitution of Guyana to hold elections within three months of the passage of a no-confidence motion.
But at a recent press conference, GECOM’s Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield had told the media that the Secretariat needs another 148 days before it is fully ready to host the constitutionally mandated General and Regional Elections.
The parliamentary Opposition and other observers have accused Government of attempting to delay the holding of the constitutionally mandated elections following the passage of the No-confidence Motion.