The State meets GECOM Chair and Commissioners

─ It is for the Commission to give me a date” – President David Granger

DPI, Guyana, Friday, March 8, 2019

President David Granger says the government had an enlightening and useful engagement with the Chairman and Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission on Friday.

This follows an invitation by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on behalf of the President, to Retired Justice James Patterson.

In the letter addressed to the GECOM Chairman, Minister Harmon noted “I write on behalf of His Excellency, the President, on the issue of the readiness of GECOM for the conduct of General and Regional Elections”

Following today’s meeting, President Granger noted that the commission was invited to examine ways and mean of having credible elections in a shorter time as possible.

“We sought guidance from the elections commission as to what they would need… it appeared to the government side, that there are some differences, we did not feel that the differences are irreconcilable, but there needs to be a fresh search for agreement between the competing opinions in the commission” noted President Granger.

Adding that much attention was focused on the (voters) list, President Granger agreed that “naturally the (voters) list is central to elections.

“We feel that elections are a normal part of democracy, but we don’t want any citizen to feel disenfranchised … And it is obvious from the evidence provided at the meeting this morning that the list is bloated, given the size of our population and much attention is focused on sanitizing that list.”

President Granger said as far as “we are concerned on the government side… we did not receive the sort of guidance …to enable me the President to make a proclamation to actually announce a date.”

However, the Head of State President Granger noted that the door had been kept open and the government has asked GECOM to go back to the drawing board to examine how quickly and how easily they could arrive at a consensual position. He called on the Commission to “merge the various approaches, ensure that the preparations for elections which have already started continue and that we could have an agreement as quickly as possible” 

The Head of State added that as far as government was concerned the meeting was productive, edifying and “we feel that we have the basis for moving quickly towards having election in Guyana, the unfortunate thing is that we don’t have a date and I’m confident that if GECOM resolved or reconcile the different points of view which exist in the commission now, Guyanese can look forward to having elections as early as possible.  

In the meantime, President Granger reiterated that 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 on what it has been doing … it is not for me to overrule the commission, the commission is independent, it is not for anybody to give the commission instructions as to when the elections are to be held.”

Felecia Valenzuela

Image: Ministry of the Presidency