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Jagdeo says general elections “main issue” for talks with Granger

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, President David Granger, and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Saturday indicated that he has put down a two-pronged approach for next week’s talks with President David Granger, the priority being general elections following the no-confidence motion.

“Compliance with our Constitution in relation to the no confidence motion and preparation for free and fair elections will therefore be the main issue on the agenda of the meeting with the President on Jan 9,” he said in comments issued to the media by email.

Repeated efforts by Demerara Waves Online News to contact Jagdeo on Saturday proved futile.

Identification of the main issues on Saturday came two days after Minister of State Joseph Harmon asked the Opposition Leader to state what he would like to discuss with the Guyanese leader.

Despite legal action challenging the no-confidence vote and accusations of bribery, Jagdeo did not rule out discussing governance issues, stating that “We will however still keep an open mind on issues of governance despite the bad faith approach and concerted attempts by the Coalition to squander the goodwill for progress and mature, sensible behavior.”

Jagdeo seemed upset that government, through a private citizen Compton Reid, has filed a High Court challenge of the validity of the no-confidence vote by Charrandas Persaud because he is a Canadian citizen. He also objected to Attorney General Basil Williams’ comment that legal action was part of efforts to strengthen the government’s hands in the planned Granger-Jagdeo talks.

“They have reneged on the public statements accepting the passage of the no confidence motion using the most ludicrous arguments – that a 34/31 vote was needed for the motion to be successful, that they did not tactically speak about this when the motion was passed for fear of activating 5 other PPP moles on the government side, that the PPP bribed Charrandass – without providing a shred of evidence. Further having failed to get the Speaker to reverse the ruling that the no confidence was carried, they have now resorted to the courts to override the Constitution,” Jagdeo said.

Both the President and the Opposition Leader, in wake of the passage of the opposition-sponsored no-confidence motion by 33 to 32 votes in the 65-seat National Assembly, had struck unprecedented conciliatory tones aimed at finding common ground for the good of Guyana. Their comments were apparently against the background of the fact that Guyana is expected to earn significant revenues from oil production expected to begin later this year or early 2020.

However, Jagdeo charged that “it seems as though the protracted period for the meeting is to give them time to wriggle out of the obligations imposed on them by articles 106(6) and 106(7) of our constitution. “We will fiercely resist this,” he added.

The legal maneuvers and political utterances by the government, he said, have created a potential setback for governance talks with Granger. “Since then they have acted in bad faith and done everything to undermine this collaborative approach.”

The Compton Reid case also seeks to have a stay of the 90-day period within which general elections must be held. However, the Guyana Constitution also allows for an extension of that period by a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.