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Civil Society Forum calls on President to name elections date

President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, accompanied by their delegations, at recent talks to break the political impasse. (File photo)

A group of non-governmental organisations calling themselves the Civil Society Forum on Monday publicly called on President David Granger to name an election date or risk his administration being labelled “illegal”.

“His not naming that date thus far has increased the probability that the government will be accused of being illegal after March 21,” the Forum said in a statement. The Forum noted that Guyana’s Constitution and the High Court rulings so far require the President to name a date for elections within 90 days of December 21, 2018 since a parliamentary no-confidence motion declaration.

The grouping of business, labour, religious and other organisations also indicated they would like to meet with the President. The Forum weeks ago requested a meeting but so far they have been unable to have one.

The Civil Society Forum also implied its offer to mediate in the political stalemate that has already triggered statements of concern by the European Union and the United Nations Resident Coordinator. “We assure them of our support, as may be needed, to ensure the success of their efforts,” the Forum said.

The grouping called on the President and the Leader of the Opposition “to recognize their respective responsibilities to honour the Constitution and uphold the law and to hold themselves accountable for finding a solution to this growing crisis which endangers our democracy.”

General and Regional Elections had been constitutionally due the latest by August 2020, but with the passage of the no-confidence motion last December, it is likely that the polls could be brought forward to some time this year.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has so far maintained that he would not be agreeing to an extension of the life of the Parliament beyond the 90 days which expires in less than two weeks unless the President names an election date and uses the current voters list.

In turn, the President has asked the seven-member Guyana Elections Commission to resolve their differences over a “bloated” voters’ list that expires next monthend. The incumbent coalition and three of its elections commissioners see house-to-house registration as the only means of scrubbing the list of the names of dead persons and emigrants as well as ensuring that persons are registered in districts they reside.

Endorsing the Forum’s statement are the Anglican Church, Guyana Human Rights Association, Movement Against Parking Meters, Inter-Religious Organization, Guyana Presbyterian Church,  Roman Catholic Church, Transparency Institute of Guyana Incorporated, Guyana Rastafarian Community, Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union, Private Sector Commission, Red Thread, Aircraft Owners Association of Guyana, and RISE Guyana.