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Guyana’s President to announce general election date early next year

President Donald Ramotar

Guyana’s President Donald Ramotar on Saturday ditched local and international calls to lift the suspension of Parliament and instead opted to call early elections in the New Year, quite possibly before the April 30 deadline for the passage of a National Budget.

Addressing a news briefing at State House, his official residence, the Guyanese leader said he opted to decide that fresh elections would be held after Opposition Leader David Granger formally refused an invitation to hold talks to resolve a number of burning issues.

“I have considered and I have consulted and this is my resolve. We will go to elections. I have also since written to the international community alerting them to the possibility of early elections and the desire for them to field observer missions,” he said.

Ramotar declined to say when he would announce E-Day, saying that it was “quite likely”, “quite possibly” and “quite likely” that an announcement would be made before the 2015 Budget, during his New Year’s address or before Republic Day Mashramani celebrations on February 23, 2015. “Early in the New Year I intend to announce further steps towards the direction and regional elections in Guyana,” he said.

The President said that in the coming weeks he would be consulting the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) about its readiness for holding election at the more than 2,000 polling stations across this 83,000 square mile country.

The President said he decided against announcing a date Saturday because he did not want to affect the Christmas Season. “We will not disrupt and dampen the Christmas Season with the evident purpose-less parliamentary debates.”

Ramotar’s announcement has effectively nullified efforts by Private Sector Commission (PSC)to have the opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), led by Granger, and the Alliance For Change (AFC) meet with government to resolve a number of outstanding issues in exchange for scrapping the no-confidence motion and lifting the suspension of the  Parliament.

The President had suspended Parliament on November 10- the same day that the AFC and APNU had planned to use their combined one-seat majority to pass a no-confidence motion in government and lead to elections in 90 days.

Prorogation or suspension of the Parliament now means that the President and his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration have six months from November 10, barring the National Budget deadline, within which to call elections.

The AFC had sponsored the no-confidence motion, citing lavish spending on a number of projects and programmes that had not been approved by the National Assembly, refusal to set up the constitutionally required Public Procurement Commission and Ramotar’s refusal to assent Bills that have been approved by the Opposition.

For its part, government has failed to secure the opposition’s support for the passage of  internationally approved amendments to the 2009 Anti Money Laundering and Countering of Financing Terrorism Act), a funding mechanism for the almost US$1 billion Amaila Falls Hydro power plant, and financing for the upgrade of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport.