President ‘uncomfortable’ leading caretaker Gov’t; says anxious to call elections
President David Granger has expressed dissatisfaction with governing an interim administration, nothing, that among other things, his travel and that of his Ministers have been restricted.
As such, he said there is no one more anxious than him to set a date for general and regional elections but emphasised again that it is the responsibility of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to indicate its readiness.
Today marks nine months since a No-Confidence motion against the coalition Government was passed in the National Assembly with the votes of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and of one of the Government’s own Parliamentarians.
After the motion was challenged at Guyana’s highest court – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – the judges ruled that the motion was valid and that the Government had to assume a caretaker or interim position until elections are held and a new President is appointed.
“It is very uncomfortable for me as a Head of State to labour under the restrictions of an interim administration. I have not accepted – apart from my health – I have not accepted any invitations to go to foreign countries, many of my ministers have had their travel restricted.
“We cannot plan a budget, we cannot bring a budget to Parliament and we cannot engage in certain types of projects which are regarded as irreversible and the whole business of Government has been slowed because we are obedient to and compliant with the instructions of the CCJ last July,” President Granger told reporters at the sidelines of an event at the Ministry of the Presidency Wednesday morning.
He added, “So it’s uncomfortable for me to remain in this condition.”
The President reiterated that his focus remains on ensuring that there is a clean and credible voters list before heading to the polls.
“My mindset is on a clean list, credible elections in the shortest time possible. This is what I have been doing all year, this is what I’ve been saying, I’ve written to the previous Chairman of the Commission, I’ve had several meetings with the Leader of the Opposition and no one could be more anxious than I am to ensure that the elections are held as quickly as possible.”
The Head of State once again noted that it is for GECOM to indicate when it is ready to hold elections.
“The GECOM has exclusive authority in determining its readiness and I have publicly announced that as soon as I hear from the Commission that it is ready, it has the resources and the staff, ballot papers are printed and all the requirements are complied with under the law, I will then consider making an announcement as soon as possible afterwards.
“This is not in my hands, people are calling on me, people are picketing, but I cannot do anything, because I do not have the authority; I cannot go out and print ballot papers, I cannot appoint returning officers, I cannot detail where polling stations will be.
“These are functions given exclusively to the elections commission and I don’t interfere, I don’t intrude and I cannot give instructions to the elections commission.”
The President noted that any elections timeline provided by GECOM “must be achievable.”
“I have not prorogued Parliament, I have not dissolved Parliament, I have ensured that major institutions remain intact; the National Assembly is intact.
“I have not interfered with the judiciary when I did not agree with one of their rulings, I took it to the next higher court…
“The Executive has not been removed, the Cabinet has not been removed, I am still President until I am replaced as President, which is not likely,” Mr Granger said.
He explained that the Government will return to Parliament to extend the deadline for the elections once an agreement is reached with Parliamentary Opposition.
“I am aware of the constitutional requirement to return to Parliament to seek an extension and I see that in the final analysis, this would have to be done.”