Granger reacts to heckling: “I hope that the intellectual authors of the disorder would be able to stop what they have started.”
Jagdeo to Granger: “ I don’t give a damn about your threat.”
President David Granger on Thursday promised that the governing coalition would accept the results of the next general elections now widely expected any time after February, 2020.
“My government will respect the democratic will of the people. Anything contrary will be abhorrent to the values to which my coalition government subscribes. My government assures the business community today of its resolve to ensuring credible elections at the earliest time possible,” he told a business luncheon of the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA).
Speaking with the media after addressing the luncheon, he confirmed receiving a correspondence from the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice Claudette Singh that the elections machinery would be sufficiently oiled to hold elections any time after late February.
The President, who has accepted his administration’s caretaker status following the Caribbean Court of Justice’s validation of last December’s no-confidence motion, was Thursday afternoon expected to meet with his Cabinet to discuss the GECOM Chairman’s letter. He last week told a mission from the Carter Centre that he would act “decisively” in dissolving Parliament and announcing a date for general elections.
GECOM has already described a presentation on the work-plan by pro-government elections commissioner, Charles Corbin, as “comprehensive”.
The President’s assurance that his incumbent administration would accept the results of the general elections came almost two years after when in November 2017, he had told a People’s National Congress Reform meeting in Atlanta that the “big questions” for his People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) were gaining and retaining power.
The PNC, under its founder-leader late President Forbes Burnham and his successor late Desmond Hoyte, had been persistently accused of staying in office from the 1970s to 1992 through fraudulent elections. After sweeping electoral reforms, Guyana’s first free and fair elections in 28 years were won by the PPP.
“Whatever you will choose to discuss today and the weeks and months to come, I think there are several questions that you have to ask yourself as you look to the future. You have to ask yourself: ‘how did the PNC gain office in 1964?’ Ask yourself: ‘how did the PNC remain in office?’ and, ‘what did it do during that period?’ Ask yourself: ‘how the PNC regained office in 2015?’ and ask yourself: ‘how would the PNC retain office after 2020?’ These are big questions. These are big questions. It’s not guess work. This is spade work. This calls for the work of all our members and our regions,” he had said in an address to the 5th Biennial Conference of the PNCR’s North American Region (NAR) in Atlanta, Georgia.
The President told business executives at the GMSA event on Thursday that his government would not tolerate violations of the law and political violence. “The business community need not fear political violence or social unrest. My government will do everything necessary to ensure political stability,” he said. The President added that “the business community has nothing to fear from the forthcoming elections. I am committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment for business, for communities and for citizens in the process leading to, during and after general elections,” he said.
Minutes before those assurances, the President was heckled by opposition People’s Progressive Party supporters, Juan Edghill, Nigel Dharamlall, Peter Ramsaroop and others, as he began delivering his presentation. The seemingly prepared protesters, who were having lunch, lifted their placards in unison and shouted “illegal government” after the President referred to the protesters outside the hotel displaying “hooliganism”.
Earlier, Minister of Public Infrastructure David Patterson was accosted and chased by PPP supporters as he tried to enter the Pegasus Hotel’s compound for the GMSA luncheon. The south-western gate was locked as a result of the protest.
Riot squad police, equipped with batons and shields, later arrived on the scene. The protesters left the area without further incident and there were no reported arrests.
The President, before continuing his speech, indicated that protests such as the one he was subjected to could have a ripple effect. “I hope that the intellectual authors of the disorder would be able to stop what they have started.”
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo regarded Granger’s remark as a threat but he said he was not bothered by it and that the President would continue to be a target of peaceful protests wherever he goes. “I think he meant it as a threat but we’re not worried about your threats, Granger. Let me make that clear. We are not an illegal about an illegal caretaker President who is squatting in office so I don’t give a damn about your threat,” he said.
“We are never going to get into violent protests that will harm innocent people and ordinary Guyanese people…but we will target the person who is acting illegally and so Granger , wherever he shows up, wherever he goes he is going to be met with protests that will point out and disruptions that will say to him… that ‘we are not going to be violent but will not tolerate dictatorship in this country’,” he said.
The United States, United Kingdom and the European Union on Friday said in a joint statement that “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.”