The Guyana government late Thursday night said it “firmly rejects and condemns as malicious and deceitful” Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo’s accusations that President David Granger doctored correspondence to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“The Leader of the Opposition should avail himself to sound advice and respond in a manner that is befitting the office and not to go about running people down, berating them, berating the high office of the President. The President has never descended to that level to describe Mr. Jagdeo or anybody in that way that he is now seeking to describe the President with disrespect,” the Minister of State said.
He also called on the Opposition Leader to back down from his position earlier Thursday that he would not be meeting President Granger next week Wednesday unless he first says what is the election date. Minister Harmon says he believes that there is enough time before the March 6 meeting for the Opposition Leader to reconsider his decision to accept the President’s invitation.
“We have always said that the President is prepared to engage with the Leader of the Opposition on any matter of national interest. We consider this to be one such matter and therefore that is why the President invited him. So it is our hope that after mature consideration, the Leader of the Opposition will change that stance which he has taken today and attend the meeting,” Minister Harmon added.
Further, the Minister said that he has noted that the Leader of the Opposition has not chosen to respond to the President’s invitation as protocol dictates.
“A letter of invitation was sent to the Leader of the Opposition for a meeting with the President on March 6 at 11:00hrs. We made that public after the letter was sent to the Leader of the Opposition. One would expect that under normal decency and by virtue of democratic behaviour, the Leader of the Opposition would respond to the President indicating whether he would attend that meeting or not, but not to hear in the Media that he has said that he is not attending,” he said.
On the controversy over the two letters, Harmon said the President received Justice Patterson’s letter on Monday, hours before he departed for medical treatment in Cuba. He responded promptly in his first letter, which states in its opening paragraph, “Dear Chairman, I acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 2019.02.21. I have noted your statement to the effect that the Commission does not have the capability to deliver credible General and Regional Elections (GRE) within the three-month time frame commencing 2018.12.21 and that additional funds, appropriated by the National Assembly, need to be provided.”
In that same letter, Harmon said the President also assured the Commission that the Government is committed to doing whatever is needed to ensure that it is provided with the financial resources and has enough time to conduct credible elections.
In the second letter, the President begins by stating, “Dear Chairman, I wrote you earlier acknowledging receipt of your letter dated 2019.02.21 and the documents enclosed. I have noted the requirements stated by the Guyana Elections Commission herein, for the preparation and delivery of General and Regional Elections in 2019.”
It continues: “I have noted also, that GECOM, as a Constitutional agency would require a new appropriation of funds approved by the National Assembly for the conduct of General and Regional Elections. I now write you in that context for us to initiate consultations on the readiness of GECOM for the conduct of General and Regional Elections in 2019.”
Mr Harmon explained that the second letter refers to the need to consult because the Chairman of GECOM raised issues of time and the lack of financial resources. It was aimed at finding out the amount of money needed to conduct credible elections. He noted that the first letter was not doctored.
“So there are two letters. The first letter is an acknowledgement of the Chairman of GECOM’s letter. The second letter refers to the first letter. So how could you now say that this is something that is doctored when you, the author of the letter, acknowledges that you sent one and this is the second one I am sending?” Minister Harmon said.
Harmon said the Opposition Leader has descended to a new level of disrespect for the Office of the President and the Government by maligning the good character of the President and his office and by deliberately, maliciously misleading the public.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State said that he is appalled by the allegation against the Head of State and the attack on his religion by Mr. Jagdeo.
“I have never heard anyone level such an accusation against President David Arthur Granger, a Christian man, who espouses and practices Christian values, who understands the Bible and while this gentleman today has been talking about the Bible, I really do wonder if he has ever read the Bible because if you were to accuse the President of fraud, what you are saying is that the President deliberately… in fact, if you were to check on the definition of fraud, there are several definitions… but the ordinary usage of the word ‘fraud’ means that it is an act of deceiving or misrepresenting. Now this is what the Leader of the Opposition is seeking to say, that the President did after two letters were released that were addressed to the Chairman of GECOM, not to Mr. Jagdeo. We have not heard the Chairman say that he felt deceived or that there was any misrepresentation in what the President said,” he noted.
Minister Harmon said that at no time has the President or any member of his Government stooped to the level of disrespect that is demonstrated by the Leader of the Opposition and his actions and utterances must therefore be condemned. “This is something that not only the Government will take very seriously but all Christians, all people of religion across the world must recognise that this is an attack on the religion of the President, an attack on order and good governance and he must be condemned in the strongest possible terms for this level to which he has sunk in this press conference. I am also calling on all right-thinking Guyanese to condemn the Leader of the Opposition for this level to which he has sunk and for which he is trying to take the society, into the pit to which he has descended,” the Minister of State added.
With the Leader of the Opposition stating that he will be engaging the international community and other organisations on the matter, Minister Harmon said that the Government can stand up to scrutiny and the letters are a matter of simple chronology.
“I believe that if he avails himself of good advice that he will understand his role in a better way and act in a more mature manner. I cannot be responsible for Mr. Jagdeo’s comprehension of simple chronology and simple English language. If he takes the time enough to read, he would be able to understand. So, taking it to the international community, taking it wherever you want to take it, you would only be embarrassing yourself because people would be able to read and understand exactly what the President is saying,” he expressed.
The opposition People’s Progressive Party has been maintaining that elections should have been held within 90 days after the no-confidence motion was passed on December 21, 2018 by 33 to 32 votes in the 65-seat National Assembly.
The full text of both correspondence follows:granger-gecom-2