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President to discuss GECOM February 2020 election readiness with Cabinet; rejects foreign diplomats’ claim of breached constitution

The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh on Thursday informed President David Granger that that elections management authority would be in a position to conduct general and regional council elections by the end of February, 2020.

Opposition People’s Progressive Party elections Commissioner Sase Gunraj confirmed this to News-Talk Radio Guyana 103.1 FM/Demerara Waves Online News.

The President declined to confirm this, only saying he would first meet with his Cabinet later Thursday. “I’m going to meet my Cabinet and I will not discuss the contents of the communication until I have received the advice of my Cabinet,” he said.

He stressed that GECOM is independent of the executive and the judiciary. He reiterated that he must be advised of GECOM’s readiness to conduct an election or “it would be reckless of me” to do otherwise.

Granger assured the business community does not need to worry about political violence. “My government will respect the will of the people,” he earlier told a Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association luncheon.

However, the United Kingdom, United States and the European Union said the government is now illegal by its breach of the constitution by not having called elections before September 18.

“…we deeply regret that, by surpassing September 18, the Government is currently in breach of the Constitution following its failure to adhere to the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18 June and its subsequent orders,” they said in a joint statement issued by US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch, UK High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn and the Head of Delegation of the European Union to Guyana, Ambassador Fernando Ponz Cantó.

Canada, for the second time, has not been a signatory to a joint statement on the political situation in Guyana.

Reacting to the statement, President Granger maintained that naming an election date was delayed by GECOM, an independent agency, having to prepare for the polls. “My only response is that the government is abiding by the constitution in the sense it has allowed the election commission, an autonomous agency, to do its work,” he said.

Granger said he “I would be (a) more grievous breach of the constitution if I try to intrude or interfere in the work of the Commission.”

He urged the international community to allow the Guyana government “to resolve the issues”.

Granger insisted that he could not hold advice until GECOM advised him it was ready to conduct credible elections based on a credible list.

“It is impossible for the Executive to run the election. I will not allow the Executive to intrude. I will not print ballot papers, I will not train returning officers, I will not detail polling stations. This is the job of an agency. Let the agency do its work,” he said.

The GECOM Chairman’s communication to the President has ended months of speculation and political wrangling between the government and the opposition on when Guyanese would return to the polls to elect a government of their choice following the passage of a People’s Progressive Party Civic-sponsored no-confidence motion 33-32 by the 65-seat House.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) subsequently validated the passage of that motion at the end of a long-running legal battle initiated by the government and a pro-governing coalition litigant. The regional court, in its decision, had declared the Granger-led administration as a “caretaker” until general elections are held.