Cordial meeting held between Pres. Granger and opposition leader

─ CCJ ruling allows for president and opposition leader to “hammer out suitable persons from the list” for GECOM Chair – Pres. Granger

─ both sides to meet again as “the president indicated that he would like to see this process completed within days” – DG Harmon

─ govt remains adamant about “free and fair elections.”

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, July 4, 2019

President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharat Jagdeo met for approximately one hour today at the Ministry of the Presidency.

Following the conclusion of the meeting, the Head of State briefed the media on the way forward for the two sides.

“There were several issues on the agenda, but the main issue was to seek agreement on the means to be adapted for the nomination and appointment for the Chairman of the elections commission,” the president said.

He added that both sides feel that unless or until the chairman is appointed, the work of the commission will not be able to go ahead as quickly as possible.

The president reminded the journalists that the government remains adamant about “free and fair elections.”

In mapping out a way forward, the Head of State also announced that the government remained bound “by the Constitution Article 161, and there has been no variation from our position or the opposition’s position on the validity of that article… We are also bound now by the interpretation of the Caribbean Court of Justice [CCJ] which has spoken twice on the issue of elections.”

He said the decision to meet with the opposition leader to decide on a way forward, complied with the last injunction of the CCJ.

In the meantime, the president sought to clear up a matter which he said may have caused confusion in the media recently. The issue revolved around whether or not he was able to make recommendations to the list of six to be submitted to him by the leader of the opposition for Chairman of GECOM.

“I can’t recommend to myself; the recommendation must come from him [the leader of the opposition] to me, and I will make a selection … But the CCJ’s ruling… allows the two sides to hammer out suitable persons from the list.”

This, he further explained, meant that “yes I can make a submission, but in the final analysis that submission has to come to me from the leader of the opposition.”

He insisted that the CCJ has not taken away that role from the leader of the opposition, nor has it taken away his prerogative to make a submission.

Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harman, who joined the president at the media briefing, said both sides have agreed to meet again very soon. “The meeting agrees that the process will be completed in a shortest possible time, in fact, the president indicated that he would like to see this process completed within days.”

DG Harmon also said that consequent to the CCJ ruling and following their conversations this afternoon, the leader of the opposition can submit the list he previously presented. He explained this will not be viewed as a resubmission but as a fresh submission.

Image: Keno George

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