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Granger constitutionally declares March 2, 2020 as general elections date

President David Granger addressing Parliament (file photo)

Amid mounting international pressure to end “political uncertainty”, President David Granger at midnight Monday proclaimed March 2, 2020 as the date for general and regional council elections.

“The President, by the power vested in him by Article 61 of the Constitution of Guyana, to by proclamation, appoint the day for an election under Article 60 (2) appoints 2nd March 2020 as the day on which an election of members of the National Assembly shall be held,” Granger said in a statement issued by the Ministry of the Presidency.

His proclamation came less than one week after the 34-nation Organisation of American States (OAS) called on the President to comply with Guyana’s constitution and officially name the date.

Previously, on September 25, the President had announced, tentatively, March 2, 2020 as the earliest date for holding general elections, based on the Guyana Elections Commission’s readiness.

After that had raised suspicions in some quarters that Granger did not name a date definitively, he told reporters the next day that March 2, 2020 would be the date even if the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) does not return to the National Assembly to allow for a two-thirds approval of the extension of the life of the government.

Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of the Commonwealth of Britain and her former colonies had also last month called on Granger to restore constitutional rule in Guyana by immediately setting an early election date “in consonance with the constitution” so that overdue elections could be held.

Granger’s announcement came shortly before the Guyana Elections Commission begins the Claims and Objections period for persons to register or object to the presence of names on the list.

Following is the full text of the Ministry of the Presidency’s statement that announced the proclamations for the holding of general and regional council elections.

President David Granger has issued two proclamations for the holding of General and Regional Elections on Monday, 2nd March 2020.

The President, by the power vested in him by Article 61 of the Constitution of Guyana, to by proclamation, appoint the day for an election under Article 60 (2) appoints 2nd March 2020 as the day on which an election of members of the National Assembly shall be held.

The Constitution at Article 61 states: “An election of members of the National Assembly under Article 60 (2) shall be held on such day within three months after every dissolution of Parliament as the President shall appoint by proclamation.”

Similarly, President Granger has proclaimed 2nd March, 2020, the same day as appointed under Article 61 of the Constitution for the holding of elections of members of the National Assembly, as the day on which elections of members of the Regional Democratic Councils shall be held.

Article 73 (2) of the Constitution states: “Elections of members of regional democratic councils shall be held and the councils shall be dissolved at such times as, subject to paragraph (3), the President may appoint by proclamation.”

President Granger on 25th September 2019, in his address to the nation, had announced that after discussions with Chairman of the Elections Commission and with his Cabinet, the earliest possible date for the holding of General and Regional Elections will be on Monday, 2nd March 2020.

The President’s statement followed Chairman of the Elections Commission Justice Claudette Singh’s missive to him on 19th September 2019, indicating that “the Guyana Elections Commission will be able to deliver credible elections by the end of February 2020”.

The Head of State met Justice Singh on 25th September, and discussed the statutory timelines for the upcoming General and Regional Elections.