Guyana can slide into dictatorship if elections deadline is missed – Shuman

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Lenox Shuman, the leader of the Justice and Liberty Party (LJP) has warned of the dire consequences the country will face if the March 21 elections deadline is missed.

He said were the Government to become illegal, it would represent a slide into dictatorship.

At a meeting Wednesday, President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo failed to reach agreement on a date for elections; with no extension in the date as yet, elections are due in 15 days, given the constitutional requirement for elections to be held three months after the passage of a No Confidence motion.

“What is going to happen on that fateful day is the first time in the history of Guyana we are going to have…a de facto Government governing Guyana. And I think the nation has to take this very, very seriously.

“When we start having de facto Governments, what is going to happen is that we are sliding into dictatorship,” Shuman said at a press conference in Georgetown.

Shuman, a former Amerindian leader looking to become President, insisted that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must hold elections in accordance with the constitutional deadline.

Elections are due by March 21, following the passage of the No Confidence motion. The deadline cannot be extended unless the Opposition agrees by way of a Parliamentary vote.

Government Commissioners are insisting on a house to house registration to produce a new list ahead of elections, but that process can take up to eight months and well beyond the constitutional deadline for elections.

“There is no provision there that stipulates that GECOM has to go out and sanitise or not sanitise,” Shuman stated.

He insisted that “the constitution demands that elections are held within 90 days” and that condition is there regardless of GECOM status.

Shuman said that GECOM has become politicised.

“…what we have seen is that the body has strayed from its mandate; they are not operating as a constitutional body,” he stated.

Shuman accused Commissioners of taking partisan lines, “which is in violation of constitution.”

“GECOM has a responsibility to the people of Guyana and that responsibility is to act objectively, honestly and with integrity in the nation’s interest,” Shuman said, but declared that that “is not possible” since the Commission is made up of political appointees.

He said one of the core principles of the JLP is to depoliticise GECOM.

“When you have two parties that dominate one house it is going to become difficult to find agreement on how we can put that house in order.

“As such, what we want to do is literally remove politics from the mandate of the Guyana Elections Commission and revise how that is body was formed, to make it more objective, more centred and more in the interest of the people,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Shuman reiterated that he has applied to give up his Canadian citizenship in view of the constitutional stipulation that a person cannot be an elected Member of the National Assembly and hold allegiance to a foreign power.

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