Credible elections at the earliest time possible
The Elections Commission has exclusive and explicit responsibility for the conduct of general and regional elections in accordance with the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (at Article 62).
The Constitution (at Article 162 (1) I) states, further, that: “…The Elections Commission shall have such functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections…”
The Elections Commission is insulated from political influence, instruction or interference and its independence is safeguarded by the Constitution. The independence of the Commission and the integrity of the electoral process are essential to ensuring elections which express the will of the electorate. I am committed to providing governmental assistance to the Commission to ensure that the forthcoming elections will not be contaminated by mismanagement or malpractice.
The Elections Commission has a constitutional obligation, therefore, to ensure that everything necessary would be done to deliver credible elections. It is the Commission’s task to ensure that adequate resources are acquired; personnel are employed; the Official List of Electors which enfranchises all eligible voters is published; administrative mechanisms to ensure efficient polling and the counting and tabulation of results are implemented; and that the laws of Guyana are enforced.
I have emphasised, repeatedly, that the imperative has been to provide every assistance to the Commission to enable it to conduct “credible elections at the earliest time possible.” My position remains unaltered.
I have acted expeditiously throughout the year to ensure that credible general and regional elections are held. I consulted the Elections Commission on two occasions. I consulted the Leader of the Opposition on three occasions to select a new Chairman of the Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution (at Article 161 (1)). I appointed Justice Claudette Singh, SC, CCH, as Chairman of the Commission and administered the Oath of Office to her on 29th July 2019.
I have full confidence in the Chairman’s independence, integrity and impartiality and her intention and ability to perform the functions of her office in the best interest of the Guyanese people.
A Governmental team met the Chairman and Commissioners of the Elections Commission on Friday 13th September 2019 to ascertain its readiness to conduct the elections. A Parliamentary Opposition team met the Commission, also, on Tuesday 10th September. We are assured that the Commission is doing everything possible to prepare to conduct credible elections at the earliest time possible.
The Elections Commission must be allowed to continue the task of preparing for the forthcoming general and regional elections. The Commission has an obligation to assure the public that it is ready to conduct credible elections and to advise the President of its readiness to do so. I could then dissolve Parliament and issue a proclamation appointing a date on which elections could be held in accordance with the Constitution.
It would be reckless and irresponsible, on my part, to appoint a date for elections without the Commission’s advice and assurance that it would be ready to conduct elections on such a date.
I call on all Guyanese to have confidence in the Elections Commission. I am ready to be guided by the Chairman’s assessment of the Commission’s preparedness to conduct elections.
I urge everyone to uphold the Constitution and respect the judgment of our independent institutions and the people who have been appointed to manage them. I look forward to the Commission’s recommendation to conduct credible elections at the earliest time possible.
May God bless Guyana.