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Jagdeo wants international sanctions on gov’t if March 19 polling date is missed

Guyana’s Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday said his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would return to the National Assembly only to set a definitive date for general elections.

“There is no date I have in mind outside of March 19,” he told a news conference. “We will not return to Parliament unless it has to do with a finite date for elections,” he said.

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has already ruled out elections being held in March – the other options now being in July or December.

Asked whether the PPP would be complicit in creating a constitutional crisis by clinging on to the March 19 deadline, Jagdeo vowed he would not lend support to the governing-led David Granger administration to extend the deadline.

“That is pure hogwash…! We must be complicit with APNU to violate the constitution by not doing anything within the 90-day period?,” he asked rhetorically. At the same time, he said his party was concerned about the implications of the Guyana Defence Force having to play its role in preserving the constitution.

He said he would not be seeking a meeting with President David  Granger and would only accept an invitation from the Guyanese leader based on the proposed agenda.

Jagdeo said the GECOM first has to show good faith by working back the Claims and Objections period deadline of July 2019 for training polling day staff and procuring sensitive materials such as ballots, indelible ink and stamps.

“They can’t hope that they can come and ask for us an extension just like that,” Jagdeo said.

The Opposition Leader said the PPP would eventually appeal to the international community to impose sanctions on the government for violating the constitution if the Granger-led administration continues to delay holding the elections by the constitutional deadline and “hang on to office” for personal benefits. “We will be calling for international community for sanctions for violating democracy,” he said.

Jagdeo said he would not be seeking a further meeting with President Granger. Both men had met on January 9. “I’m not seeking any meeting. He needs to comply with the constitution. We have a President who is driving us into a constitutional crisis,” Jagdeo declared.

Jagdeo expressed scepticism about whether the Court of Appeal could grant a stay of the Chief Justice’s decision that the Cabinet stands resigned. “The timeline is ticking because the Chief Justice refused to grant a stay on the three-month deadline,” he said.

PPP elections commissioner Robeson Benn has accused the GECOM administration and the government-nominated commissioners of “frittering” away the 90-day time-period since the no-confidence motion was passed on December 21, 2018.