Georgetown, Guyana – (August 9, 2019) President David Granger, this afternoon, met Opposition Leader, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo at State House to discuss matters relative to the holding of General and Regional Elections (GRE).
President Granger, who was accompanied by Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon, maintained that the Elections Commission has to advise him of its readiness before a date can be named.
The President explained that there is a “zone of convergence” in that both sides have maintained their existing positions. “I will continue to abide by the Constitution and pay attention to the Chairman of the Elections Commission who will advise me,” the President said.
The Head of State said reference was made to the Consequential Orders of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and their respective interpretations. Government maintained that the CCJ did not issue any coercive orders.
“I made it clear that it is impossible if not impractical for me, even though in the final analysis I have to proclaim a date, I could not do so without the advice of the Elections Commission,” he said.
The President is hopeful that Chairman of the Elections Commission Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, SC, CCH, would communicate the Commission’s position to him in a week’s time.
“We agreed that it is the Elections Commission which is central to this process; it is an electoral process; it is not a governmental process or parliamentary process. It is an electoral process which is entirely in the hands of the Elections Commission,” the President stated at the conclusion of the meeting.
He has noted the dates and timelines which have been mentioned in the media but reminded that it is the Elections Commission which has to advise him before he proclaims a date.
“Everything hangs on what we are told by the Chairman speaking on behalf of the Commission,” the President said while remaining optimistic that the Commission will communicate with him next week.
“We are looking to hear something, maybe in a week’s time. At the same time, I would like to assure the public that the meeting today with the Leader of the Opposition was important and beneficial. It helped to clarify issues which still exist within the two sides. There has been no agreement but greater clarity on the positions of the two sides,” President Granger said.
During the meeting, the Head of State maintained that the Official List of Electors (OLE) has to be credible.
“We referred to our meeting with the Chairman of Elections Commission on Thursday and we feel that her request, to be given an opportunity to hear the judgment of the Supreme Court and meet with the members of the Commission, was a reasonable one. We would like to engage with her after she has done those two things. So, the two sides are working towards a consensual outcome and the Government’s position has not changed. We are pursuing a course that can guarantee a credible list and can be the basis of credible elections…We are working towards seeking common ground so that the Guyanese people can be assured that we would have credible elections in the shortest possible time,” he said.
Similarly, Mr. Harmon made it clear that no agreement has made between the two sides with respect to a date for GRE. “It is clear that the Opposition had their views on how they see the activities with respect to having credible elections…but the President has made it clear that he will not be naming a date which can in fact become impractical for the Commission to accomplish,” he said.
The Director General remined that the Government has to ensure that the Commission has all its resources to facilitate the holding of GRE.
“The President made it clear that he would like to see early elections and that he has provided all of the resources that the Elections Commission required for them to work…it would not be in our interest to super-impose any coercive measures on the Commission that they cannot meet,” Mr. Harmon added.
The two sides have agreed to meet again after both the Chief Justice’s ruling scheduled for August 14 and the meeting of the full Commission.
Mr. Jagdeo was accompanied by Mr. Irfaan Ali.