Commonwealth says elections overdue, calls for early date

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As the country awaits a decision from President David Granger, four days after he was given advice by the elections body, international pressure continues to pile up, with the 53-nation Commonwealth saying there is need for an early election to restore constitutional rule.

In a statement, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, urged the President and all relevant stakeholders and institutions “to restore constitutional rule in Guyana by immediately setting an early election date in consonance with its constitution, enabling elections to be held without further delay.”

The London-based Commonwealth Secretariat said the the Secretary-General has taken note of the June 18 ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and its consequential orders of July 12.

“The CCJ’s ruling was clear that the Guyana Constitution sets out certain requirements for the time of an election after the valid passing of a no confidence motion,” the Commonwealth Secretariat stated.

The CCJ had ruled that it did not need to direct the President or other political actors in Guyana on an elections date, as the timeframe for elections is clearly stated in the Constitution. According to the Constitution, an election should be held three months after the passage of a No Confidence motion. The Court had deemed June 18 as the date from which the Constitutional deadline should be counted as the legal challenges to the passage of the No Confidence motion put the December 21 date on pause.

On Thursday last, the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) advised the President that GECOM could pull off elections by the end of February. The Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has said he understood that reasons why the Chairman gave that date and expressed hope that the President will announce a date for elections in February itself.

The President said he needed to discuss GECOM’s advice with his Cabinet, but no emergency meeting has since been held and a Cabinet meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, as is the norm.

“The rule of law and constitutional governance are fundamental Commonwealth values to which Guyana has subscribed.

“In this regard, and in accordance with the ruling of the CCJ, a general election in Guyana is now constitutionally overdue.”

“A general election should be held in accordance with the unambiguous constitutional imperative to do so,” the Commonwealth Secretariat has stated.

It said the Secretary-General has spoken with the Chair GECOM and discussed Commonwealth support to GECOM.

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