March 2, 2020 is Elections Day
DPI, Guyana, Wednesday, September 25, 2019
March 2, 2020, is Elections Day. His Excellency, President David Granger announced the date during an address to the nation, this evening.
“I am pleased to announce that, after discussions with Chairman of the Elections Commission and with my Cabinet, the earliest possible date for the holding of General and Regional Elections will be on Monday, 2nd March 2020,” the Head of State said.
The Constitution at Article 106 (7) states, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election”.
The president explained that extension of a period beyond three months for the holding of an election is related to the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) readiness to hold the elections. He noted that as a result, the government must, as a consequence, return to the National Assembly to request an extension.
“The National Assembly reconvenes on 10th October 2019… The President is required to both dissolve Parliament as provided for in the Constitution at Article 70 (2) and the ten Regional Democratic Councils as provided for in the Constitution at Article 73 (2).
The Constitution at Article 61 states: “An election of members of the National Assembly under Article 60 (2) shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation.”
The Constitution at Article 70 (2) states further that: “The President may at any time by proclamation dissolve Parliament”. The Constitution at Article 73 (2) provides that: “Elections of members of regional democratic councils shall he held and the councils shall be dissolved at such times as subject to paragraph (3), the President may appoint by proclamation.”
The Head of State said since the passage of the December 21 Vote in the National Assembly on 21st December 2018, the Coalition Government has respected the decisions of the courts and upheld the Constitution of Guyana. He noted that the administration challenged the validity of the no-confidence motion and defended the challenge, to the constitutionality of the appointment of the Chairman of the Elections Commission.
According to the Head of State, the legal processes were neither frivolous nor aimed at delaying the consequences of the ‘no-confidence motion’. These processes were sought to clarify and interpret the Constitution and to ensure that General and Regional Elections would be conducted based on a credible list, he explained. The president reiterated that he complied with the rulings of the courts, upheld the Constitution of Guyana and respected the National Assembly at all times.
“I engaged the Elections Commission from February 2019 repeatedly. I insisted that credible elections be held at the earliest possible time. Credible elections are essential to representative democracy.”
Following GECOM Chairman, (ret’d) Justice Claudette Singh’s missive on September 19, 2019, indicating that the body would be will be able to deliver credible elections by the end of February 2020, President Granger convened a meeting of available Cabinet ministers that very day, within hours of receiving her advice, to discuss the timeline provided.
He stated that a second meeting of the full Cabinet was held on Tuesday, September 24, 2019, “when all members accepted the advice provided by the Chairman of the Elections Commission. Cabinet ministers also benefitted from the advice of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams and were guided by the need to adhere scrupulously to the advice of the Elections Commission.”
President Granger also met Justice Singh, on Wednesday, September 25, for discussions on the statutory timelines for the upcoming General and Regional Elections.
In closing his address to the nation, President Granger said:
“Guyana will observe its 50th anniversary as a Republic on Sunday, 23rd February 2020. The following day, 24th February 2020 will be a national holiday. Guyanese can now look to the Elections Commission to conduct credible elections within the timeframe prescribed. Guyanese. We are on the right path to preserve our precious parliamentary democracy.”