Georgetown, Guyana (March 8, 2019) President David Granger, this morning, emphasized that the Government of Guyana will not interfere or intrude in the work of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The President’s remarks followed a meeting with GECOM’s Chair, Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson and Commissioners, along with Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Mr. Keith Lowenfield and Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Ms. Roxanne Myers at the Ministry of the Presidency.
On Wednesday, President Granger invited the Commission to a meeting to discuss issues related to the hosting of General and Regional Elections this year. The President met with Opposition Leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo and a team from the Opposition on Wednesday.
“Let me make one thing clear. The Government is in no way interfering or intruding in the constitutional role and duty of the Commission. It is for the Commission to advise me that it is ready and I will then proclaim a date. Naturally, I will like to proclaim a date that is sanctioned by the National Assembly and the Constitution, but we have not intruded in the work of the Commission and we are prepared to support the Commission in what it has been doing. It is not for me to overrule the Commission,” President Granger said in a statement following the meeting. He maintained that the Commission is independent. It is not for anybody to give the Commission instructions as to when elections are to be held. Once the Commission says it is ready, I will announce a date and I hope that date is as early as possible,” he added.
Article 62 of the Constitution of Guyana states that “Elections shall be independently supervised by the Election [s] Commission in accordance with the provisions of Article 162.” Article 161 A (1) says the Elections Commission shall be responsible for the efficient functioning of the Secretariat of the Commission, which shall comprise the officers and employees of the Commission, and for the appointment of all the staff to the offices thereof inclusive of all temporary staff, recruited for the purposes of boundary demarcation, registration or persons and elections and shall have the power to remove and exercise disciplinary control over such staff.”
Article 161 (B) makes the role of the political parties and their nominees in the conduct of elections by the Elections Commission clear. It says that “the tole of political parties and their nominees in the conduct of elections by the Elections Commission shall be limited to their participation in determining policy, monitoring the electoral process and the conduct of the election, but does not include active management of the electoral process.
“Moreover, Article 162 (1) of the Constitution speaks to the Commission having functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections as are conferred upon it by or under the Constitution, or subject to any Act of Parliament, and to the provisions of the Constitution, the Commission “shall exercise general direction and supervision over the registration of electors and the administrative conduct of all elections of members of the National Assembly and shall issue such instructions and take such action as appear to it necessary or expedient to ensure impartiality, fairness and compliance with the provisions of this Constitution or any Act of Parliament on the part of persons exercising powers or performing duties connected with or relating to the matters aforesaid.”
It is in this vein that the Head of State who was accompanied by Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, said the suggestion that the “ball being in the President’s court” is not a credible position to take.
“I have to be advised by the Commission and we had two hours of, I would say gruelling discussions and I am very confident that when the Commission goes back to High Street and goes back to the drawing board, they will be able to give the Guyanese people or give the President the type of guidance that I need to make a decision,” President Granger said while emphasizing that he is satisfied that the will exists on both sides, the Government side and the Commission’s side, and to decide when elections will be held in Guyana.
At this morning’s meeting, President Granger was also accompanied by Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo; Minister of Social Protection and Chief Whip, Ms. Amna Ally; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams, SC., Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan and Vice-President and Minister of Indigenous People’s Affairs, Mr. Sydney Allicock.
Justice Patterson was also accompanied by Commissioners, Mr. Vincent Alexander, Mr. Robert Corbin, Mr. Desmond Trotman, Ms. Bibi Shadick, Mr. Sase Gunraj and Mr. Robeson Benn.