Georgetown, Guyana – (March 6, 2019) President David Granger, following a meeting with Opposition Leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, this morning, said Guyana is not in a crisis.
“There is no crisis. There are issues which have to be resolved and most of those issues will depend on what I hear from GECOM [Guyana Elections Commission] when I consult them,” President Granger said.
The President, who was accompanied by Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, described his meeting with the Opposition Leader as “very useful and very fruitful.”
He made it clear that GECOM is an autonomous, independent agency and the Constitution does not empower the President or the Executive to intervene in its work.
“The engagement this morning focused largely on the role of GECOM because it is only GECOM, an independent agency, which could determine when elections would be held. The President or the Executive or anybody, cannot intervene, cannot intrude, cannot interfere with the work of GECOM so we have to allow GECOM to do its work. In that regard, the Leader of the Opposition was insistent that a date be set and he is in all fairness, prepared to vary the date based on a vote by the National Assembly,” the Head of State said.
President Granger made it clear that his engagement with Mr. Jagdeo was “respectful”.
“…We will arrange this as quickly as possible so that the Guyanese people could be satisfied that we are moving towards elections. Of course, based on what will take place in the courts, the National Assembly, we are moving towards elections, but GECOM is in charge of elections not the Executive. I cannot decide when elections will be held; GECOM has to advise,” President Granger stated.
“I am happy to say that the engagement between the Government side and the Opposition side was very useful and very fruitful. Both sides are working towards the solution of the issues which now confront us and I think we had a very positive approach. As you know there are four processes taking place; one is the importance of the National Assembly; second is the Judicial process; third is the Executive process and fourth is GECOM,” President Granger explained.
The Head of State invited Mr. Jagdeo to a meeting to discuss matters relative to the holding of General and Regional Elections following the passing of a No-Confidence Motion on December 21, 2018 in the National Assembly. This is the second such meeting between the two sides.
On February 25, 2019, President Granger wrote GECOM Chairman Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson inviting him to consultations to ensure credible elections are held in the shortest possible time.
“I would like to meet him…in fact, I would like to meet the entire Commission to determine what their needs are in terms of time and money. So, the door is open, the Leader of the Opposition has agreed to meet again. The people of Guyana could be assured that we are working to ensure that credible elections are held in as short a time as possible,” the Head of State said.
Meanwhile, Minister Harmon reiterated that President Granger in his missive to the GECOM Chairman indicated that there is need for consultation with respect to the Commission’s readiness to conduct elections; more importantly, the financial resources that are required and the timeline that is required.
“Our understanding from the Whips who met with GECOM, is that they have a timeline when things are to be done and it is that timeline that we’ll have to address – their own readiness for an election,” he said.
Minister Harmon noted that contact will be made with GECOM to arrange a meeting with President Granger. He anticipates that this meeting will be held within the next four days.
President Granger was also accompanied to the meeting by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, and Ministers, Ms. Amna Ally, Mr. Basil Williams, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan, Mr. Raphael Trotman and Mr. Sydney Allicock while Mr. Jagdeo’s team comprised Mr. Irfaan Ali, Ms. Gail Teixeira, Mr. Anil Nandlall and Mr. Juan Edghill.
The meeting was held at the Ministry of the Presidency.