President David Granger: 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.
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.
I, on the 25th February, wrote the Chairman of GECOM indicating that I am prepared to enter consultations with him to ensure that credible elections are held in a short a time as possible and I would like to meet him again 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.
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 when I consult them and I will ask the Minister of State to speak about those consultations.
Minister of State: In the President’s letter to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on the 25th of February, the very last paragraph of that letter indicated that the President would meet with GECOM on consultations with respect to their readiness for the conduct of elections, more importantly, the financial resources that are required and the timeline that is required.
GECOM, 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. The President has instructed that GECOM be advised about an early meeting; I will follow that up today to determine when best, but it’s going to have to be done within the next three to four days so that we can get from GECOM their readiness to deliver credible elections. I think this is important, the President spoke about… it is about delivering credible elections and not just any elections that will end up creating more confusion than they solve problems.
President David Granger: Let me make one thing clear, GECOM is an autonomous, GECOM is an independent agency and there is no part of the Constitution, which gives the President or the Executive in general, authority to interfere, intervene or intrude in the work of the elections commission. So, this is a very respectful engagement and, as the Minister of State has pointed out, 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.