This followed a meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo yesterday Wednesday to discuss a number of issues including setting an election date before the current voters’ list expires on April 30.
“GECOM is in charge of elections, not the Executive. I cannot decide when elections will be held,” he told reporters minutes after meeting Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at the Ministry of the Presidency.
The Guyanese leader said he would be asking GECOM how much money as well as time it needs to prepare for the conduct of general and regional elections.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon added that the Guyanese leader could meet with GECOM in another three or four days. “The door is open. The Leader of the Opposition has agreed to meet again. The people of Guyana could be assured that we are working to ensure that credible elections (are held) in as short a time as possible,” he said.
The President assured that there was no crisis in Guyana, and in that light Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, said “Guyanese should be satisfied that their national leaders are sitting around the table and are discussing the more important issues that would affect all of our lives.”
The Prime Minister said the fact that a second “high-level” meeting took place in less than a month shows that all the issues on the table are being dealt with in a “purposeful way”.
He explained that these matters stemmed from the December 21, 2018 vote in the National Assembly and GECOM’s readiness to host credible General and Regional Elections.
The leader of the opposition insisted that a moot point of Wednesday’s discussion be focused on a date for the hosting of General and Regional Elections; however, President Granger’s position of not interfering with the election’s commission’s process was made clear.
GECOM was established under the constitution and has, as its power, the general control and supervision of elections. As such, it would be unconstitutional for the president to interfere or dictate GECOM’s proceedings.
“It would be inviting lawlessness if the president were to fix a date for elections,” Prime Minister Nagamootoo remarked.
He emphasised that the government’s position to engage GECOM on its readiness to host credible elections was made clear to the opposition by the Head of State.
The Head of State led a delegation that included Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams SC., Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, and Government Chief Whip and Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally.
The group led by the opposition leader comprised Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, and Members of Parliament, Anil Nandlall, Irfaan Ali, Bishop Juan Edghill, Dr. Frank Anthony, Pauline Sukhai and Odinga Lumumba.
Up until Tuesday night, the Opposition Leader was adamant that he would not meet until an election date had been set by the government.
However, on Tuesday night Jagdeo made an about-turn, and decided to meet with Granger, “having been approached by many Guyanese, civil society bodies and members of the diplomatic corps to make one last attempt to avert the constitutional crisis that the President, with a complicit GECOM, is leading our nation into, the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to make one more good-faith attempt in the interest of the nation, and, will attend the meeting,” he said.
Jagdeo said Wednesday’s talks would be a last-ditch attempt to stave off a constitutional crisis if March 21 comes and he and the President do not reach an agreement on extending the life of the government beyond the 90 days after the no-confidence motion was passed last December. “Many people believe that nothing positive will come out of the meeting tomorrow given the track-record of duplicity of the Granger administration thus far. The Opposition Leader shares some of these misgivings,” a statement from Jagdeo’s office said.
He said Wednesday’s talks would be “a test of the integrity, credibility and sincerity of the President” and “he would be tested as to whether he can be trusted “as a man of his word” to put our nation, its future and its people first on a foundation of constitutional and parliamentary democracy. This will be a test as to whether the constitution or ‘power lust’ wins out.”
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