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GUYANA | Opposition Leader warns of street protests

Featured Former presidents Bharrat Jagdeo (left) and Donald Ramotar Former presidents Bharrat Jagdeo (left) and Donald Ramotar
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 6, CMC – The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is warning that it will stage street protests if President David Granger goes ahead an unilaterally appoints a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to replace the retiring Dr. Steve Surujbally, who has served in the position for more than a decade.

Opposition Leader and PPP general secretary, Bharat Jagdeo told party supporters on Sunday that the country’s Constitution does not provide for Granger to make the appointment without consultation from the opposition.

“We will not take that sitting down. We will have to hit the streets running,” he said at a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the death of the PPP’s founder leader and former president, Cheddi Jagan.

Jagdeo said that it is the chairman, who holds a “delicate balance” between the three government and three opposition GEOCOM commissioners.

President Granger and Jagdeo are at loggerheads over the appointment and the PPP has already said it would challenge any unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman in the Court.

Granger has already rejected the six nominees put forward by the Opposition Leader.

Last week, the PPP issued a statement indicating that it had examined the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana, proffered by Attorney General, Basil Williams.

“While we do not agree with Williams’ interpretation, we recognise that he has finally conceded that Article 161 (2) of the Constitution qualifies two categories of persons for the positon of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), namely: Judges, former Judges and person qualify to hold the position of Judges AND, or any other fit and proper persons.

“However, in our view, the Constitution does not accord any preference whatsoever to one of these categories of persons over the other as Williams contends. Neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution confers such a bias.

“We are of the firm view that persons from either of these categories are equally qualified for the position of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Our position is consistent with the historical evolution of this particular Article of the Constitution, as well as, the qualities and qualifications of the persons who have held this position since this Article came into force.”.

In his address to the ceremony, Jagdeo also said sugar workers would soon be called upon to engage in protests if the authorities go ahead with their plans to shut down several sugar estates.

Former president Donald Ramotar, who also addressed the ceremony, said that the impending closure of the sugar estates contradicts claims by government that the manufacturing sector was only contributing a meagre five percent to Guyana’s economy.

“If they are serious about creating more manufacturing jobs, then they will have to save the sugar industry otherwise we will have no manufacturing jobs,” he said, accusing the coalition government of going “ back to the days of racial and political discrimination”.

  • Countries: Guyana