President wants more info from GECOM before dissolving Parliament for elections
President David Granger said Wednesday morning that while he will stick to the timeline provided to him by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) for long-overdue elections, he will not move to dissolve Parliament as he is seeking more information.
The dissolution of Parliament is a requirement for the holding of elections.
“The dissolution of Parliament will occur when I am satisfied that the entire process as required by the Elections Commission can move without obstruction on to the date the Chairman herself has nominated,” Granger told reporters Wednesday morning as he accredited the first High Commissioner of the Kingdom of Lesotho to Guyana at the Ministry of the Presidency.
The President has repeatedly said he was anxious to name a date for elections but was awaiting advice from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The Chairman of the Commission gave him that advice last Thursday, but the President said he was waiting to discuss the letter with his Cabinet before speaking about it. Five days elapsed before he met the Cabinet; that meeting took place Tuesday.
But at that meeting, Granger said the Cabinet was not able to peruse the schedule GECOM has set itself to hold the elections.
Even though he said the letter from the Chairman is one of “absolute clarity and certainty” of when GECOM would be ready for elections, the President still wants more information.
“I responded to her (the GECOM chairman) and I had discussion with the Cabinet.
“Naturally we would like to get from her more details,” he stated.
“I have to find out from her if she has any needs and it is for that reason I have not dissolved Parliament and it will remain in session until,” the President stated.
However, he said the Government has “accepted” the Chairman’s date.
“…and I hope this evening I will be able to make a public announcement to the nation on the date,” he stated.
The delay in the announcement of elections comes as international pressure mounts, with the 53-nation Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States having deemed the Government unconstitutional.
The President brushed aside the statements from the international community.
“There is no way I could have named a date, there is no way I could have demitted office before I received that letter (from the GECOM chair) on the 19th of September and I wish people in the international community would understand that,” the President stated.
“It is my expectation that in sending me that date – the end of February – they would have taken into consideration all of the requirements – the legal and the procedural requirements that has to be met.
“So I will meet the chairman to find out from her what her timelines are, what her schedules are but as I said, it is a certainty that we are not interested in going much beyond the time that she has laid down and I would like to return to Parliament to ensure she has all the resources the Commission needs and that she complies with the requirements of the law including ensuring the Claims and Objections,” the President stated.
The Claims and Objections period allows for those who are not registered to do so and also provides for the names of persons who are dead to be removed.
“I would like to assure not my supporters, but the entire country that the reasons we went into house to house registration have not been set aside and I would like the Commission to assure me that every Guyanese within reasonable limits will have the opportunity to exercise his/her franchise when the time comes next year,” the President stated.
GECOM was provided with over $8 billion for elections and the President said he does not expect the Commission will need more.
The Department of Public Information announced Tuesday that the President will address the nation Wednesday night regarding general elections, more than nine months after his government was toppled in a No Confidence motion that required elections in three months.
Guyana’s highest court of appeal, the Caribbean Court of Justice, had on July 12 stated that it was not its duty to pronounce on an elections date, since the timeline in the Constitution is clearly laid out.
The Constitution at Article 106 (6) and (7) mandates elections in three months after a No Confidence motion is passed.