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Uncertainty surrounds Jagdeo-Granger talks on general elections

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira

Executive member of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Gail Teixiera Wednesday night signaled that Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo was unlikely to give into demands by President David Granger to extend the 90-day deadline for holding general elections following the passage of the no-confidence motion last December.

In a lengthy letter to newspapers, she gave no indication whether or not Jagdeo would attend next Wednesday’s meeting to which he has been invited to discuss the National Assembly’s constitutional role in the current situation, and the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) readiness and requirements for poll funding to enable it to conduct general and regional elections.

Instead, Teixeira slammed the coalition and GECOM for citing a lack of funds as “subterfuge” for ignoring Guyana’s constitution and ensuring that the general and regional elections are not held by March 21, 2019 or 90 days after the 65-seat National Assembly passed the no-confidence motion on December 21, 2018.

“The President is not unaware of the constitutional and legal provisions l have referred to in this letter.
He is willfully and knowingly catapulting Guyana into a constitutional crisis never experienced before. On March 21, 2019 the President and the entire APNUAFC government will be unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful,” the former Presidential Adviser on Governance said.

Referring to President Granger’s letter to the Opposition Leader dated February 26, 2019, the long-serving PPP member and parliamentarian again accused the Guyanese leader of holding on to power. “The President’s letter to GECOM in response to their two majority decisions and his letter to the Leader of the Opposition on the eve of his departure on Tuesday February 26, 2019 is reminiscent of what he did earlier in January—buying time,
buying sympathy, giving the impression that he is sincere in holding elections while openly disregarding and violating the constitution,” she said.

The PPP executive member reiterated that GECOM ought to be legally ready to hold elections at any time. She added that there is evidence that the elections management authority had held elections three months and two weeks to hold elections in 2015.

She said GECOM has no authority to state that it is unable to hold elections prior to the date of elections being announced. “The constitution therefore expects that GECOM should always be in a state of readiness to hold scheduled and unscheduled elections and thus limited its powers to postpone or interfere with the date of an election only after the date was proclaimed by the President and only due to “ danger and serious hardship”, ” she added.

On the issue of GECOM needing the National Assembly to approve separate funds for general elections, Teixiera said the Fiscal Management and Accountability Act does not prohibit GECOM from using the GYD$5.371 billion to finance the holding of general elections.

The PPP official called on Guyanese, regardless of which political party they support, to stand resolutely in defending the “constitution and our parliamentary democracy.” “This is no time to sit on the fence. Do we want to live in a constitutional democracy or do we want to return to living under a dictatorship?,” she said.