‘Colossal waste of time’ – Opposition Commissioners say meeting with President premature, others disagree

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“It’s a colossal waste of my time this morning and I think it’s a collective waste of the Commission’s time this morning,” said Opposition nominated Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Sase Gunraj moments after a meeting with President David Granger on Thursday.

The President met with Chairman of the Commission, Justice (ret’d) Claudette Singh, the six Commissioners and Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield at the Ministry of the Presidency at 10:00hrs on Thursday.

Gunraj said the meeting discussed “nothing that was new, no new positions to be given, no new discussions, etc.”

“This meeting is premature…because we are awaiting a decision from the court in relation to the conduct of the House-to-House exercise as well as we’re awaiting a full meeting of the Commission so I reiterate, this is just a waste of time.”

Government nominated GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander, however, believes that the meeting was apt as it provided an opportunity for the Chairman to give an idea of her position since her appointment on July 29.

“I wouldn’t say it is a waste of time,” Alexander told reporters in front of the Ministry of the Presidency.

“The Government would not know what is happening in the belly of GECOM and therefore [the meeting] provided her with an opportunity to say whether [GECOM] is ready to communicate, or whatever the case may be.”

The High Court is set to rule on the constitutionality of the controversial House to House registration exercise on August 14 in a challenge filed by Attorney Christopher Ram. The Chairman of GECOM has set her first meeting with the full Commission for August 15.

The President, who spoke with the press after the meeting, did not say whether his Government will accept the ruling of the court but noted that “the Government is prepared to pursue any legal action that we feel would lead to a favourable outcome to have credible elections in Guyana.”

The President also said he does not think it was inappropriate to meet with the Chairman at this time and thought it was necessary to assure her that the Government is going to continue to observe the independence of the Commission.

“It [the government] will not dictate or intrude in the work of the Commission,” the President said.

The President also noted that he is awaiting the advice of GECOM to set a date for elections. He has dismissed reports that elections will be in December 2019.

The Head of State is set to meet with Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday.

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