Guyanese to go to the polls soon
Guyanese will likely go to the polls early next year, even as President Donald Ramotar prepares to make a formal announcement following the outright rejection by Opposition Leader David Granger to engage in talks outside of Parliament.
Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon told a news conference on Wednesday that in light of the refusal of Granger to facilitate talks with the President, elections may be on the horizon. “There can be no doubt that General and Regional Elections are gaining currency as a reasonable and acceptable alternative and option for talks among the parliamentary parties,” Luncheon said during his post-Cabinet media briefing at the Office of the President.
Dr Luncheon explained that Granger sent a written response to President Ramotar’s invitation for talks on December 2. In this letter, Luncheon said it is very clear that there will be no talks under any circumstances between the Opposition and the President. Ramotar’s invitation was dispatched on November 18.
Following the prorogation of the National Assembly on November 10, the President had said that his decision was taken to facilitate talks with the Opposition and to preserve the life of the 10th Parliament.
However, both Granger and leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan have refused dialogue. They have said that they will only speak to the President in Parliament after it is reconvened.
The Opposition parties did not budge from their decision despite calls from various sections of society for talks. APNU had vowed to organise countrywide protests until Guyana returns to political normalcy.
Luncheon said in the context of a failed prorogation (in the sense of not meeting the objective of the prorogation), three questions have always consumed the President and his advisers.
Luncheon said firstly, the Government has addressed the prorogation in its entirety and has accepted that it has failed to deliver a desirable outcome. “It has failed to deliver the goods, a continuation cannot be justified and therefore, when will it end?” Luncheon questioned.
He added that the options that were available on November 10 were looked at. These options included prorogation, which as of December 3, has been scratched out.
This essentially points to the superiority of holding early elections. As a result, the President, Dr Lunchoen said, has reflected upon Granger’s response and has responded to Granger’s letter expressing his level of disappointment in the Opposition Leader’s decision.
It is in this light that President Ramotar has decided to hold a media briefing on Saturday at State House with the aim of enlightening the Guyanese population on the decision he has taken following Granger’s letter. “There is no value in prolonging the prorogation,” Dr Luncheon added.
Líder de la oposición advierte sobre poca implicancia internacional en la crisis política
Int’l help useless in ending political stalemate – Granger
Opposition Leader David Granger is seemingly doubtful about the usefulness of international intervention into the current political gridlock, despite writing to several regional and international bodies requesting their involvement.
President Donald Ramotar last month issued a proclamation proroguing the National Assembly, hoping that the Government and the Opposition will engage in meaningful talks geared towards Guyana’s development.
However, Granger has since rejected dialogue amid calls by many prominent and influential Guyanese, for mediation to break the political stalemate.
Two weeks after President Donald Ramotar suspended the National Assembly, Granger issued letters to Caricom, the Organisation of American States (OAS), and Union of South American States (UNASUR), among other bodies, seeking their intervention, to put pressure on President Ramotar to lift the suspension.
Granger said the aim is to notify and put pressure on the Government to comply with the Constitution in terms of Local Government Elections and to reconvene Parliament so that the voices of the majority could be heard
However, even after APNU has confirmed meeting with the American, British, Canadian and European envoys seeking their intervention, he now seems to be backpedalling on his own initiative.
In an invited comment to Guyana Times, Granger said “foreign intervention is strictly academic, and that APNU’s position is that the solutions to Guyana’s problems lie right here with the Government”.
He further went on to say that the current political stalemate is not as a result of external problems.
The former Army Commander said even though external influence is meaningful, it is neither necessary nor sufficient to effect real change in Guyana’s current situation, no matter who intervenes.
“It is not a matter of who, but rather a matter of their usefulness, if since 2011, he (President Ramotar) refused to call a tri-party committee, what’s the sense of mediation now, foreigners won’t change anything,” said Granger.
There have been fresh calls for some form of dialogue between the Government and the Opposition to break the political impasse, which has dogged development here for years and caused the President to prorogue Parliament last month.
Guyana’s Reparations Committee Chairman, Dr Eric Phillips, in an interview with Guyana Times said that “at some point they have to talk, both the Government and the Opposition have trapped the country in a no win situation, resulting in the country being caught in a standstill”.
He was careful to note however that “political lines have been drawn and if either sides give in to the other their supporters will be up in arms”.
President Ramotar has formally invited Granger for talks, but the former Army Commander has refused, saying that any talks will happen after the reconvening of Parliament. Granger has also insisted that his coalition will continue to mobilise citizens in daily protest actions.
Many pressing issues of national interest, including the Amaila Falls Project, the Anti-Money Laundering Bill, the Procurement Commission, Local Government Bills, No-Confidence Motion, budgeting issues and the Telecoms Bill are now dead as a result of the deadlock.
Former Government Minister and Commentator, Dr Henry Jeffrey, in an invited comment, said:
“At the end of the day, discussions will have to take us forward so the Government, in order to show good faith, may unilaterally now wish to state its intention to allow the establishment of the Procurement Commission on the terms required by the Opposition and to assent to the Local Government Bills that were passed in the National Assembly.”
Jeffrey said such independent action by the administration may then provide a sensible framework for negotiating some kind of political contact with the Opposition before Parliament is recalled.
However, the Opposition Leader is adamant that there was no need for the National Assembly to be prorogued in the first place, since prior to October 20, the Government and combined Opposition were in earnest and meaningful negotiations, which he felt were making headway, until the subsequent prorogation.
Granger said the feel of the current deadlock is like “sleep-walking into a crisis”, since he does not believe that the country was in such a bad state that prorogation of Parliament was necessary.
Granger, who said the Government is aware of his position, related that it is up to the Government to take up its position and demonstrate leadership, which seems to be mocking the fact that he is the one who has refused talks with the Government on the way forward.
Caricom Secretary General Irwin La Rocque recently defended the regional grouping’s silence on the political impasse in Guyana, stating that the request by Guyana’s Opposition for the regional grouping to get involved is being considered.