President ‘uncomfortable’ leading caretaker Gov’t; says anxious to call elections
President David Granger has expressed dissatisfaction with governing an interim administration, nothing, that among other things, his travel and that of his Ministers have been restricted.
As such, he said there is no one more anxious than him to set a date for general and regional elections but emphasised again that it is the responsibility of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to indicate its readiness.
Today marks nine months since a No-Confidence motion against the coalition Government was passed in the National Assembly with the votes of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and of one of the Government’s own Parliamentarians.
After the motion was challenged at Guyana’s highest court – the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – the judges ruled that the motion was valid and that the Government had to assume a caretaker or interim position until elections are held and a new President is appointed.
“It is very uncomfortable for me as a Head of State to labour under the restrictions of an interim administration. I have not accepted – apart from my health – I have not accepted any invitations to go to foreign countries, many of my ministers have had their travel restricted.
“We cannot plan a budget, we cannot bring a budget to Parliament and we cannot engage in certain types of projects which are regarded as irreversible and the whole business of Government has been slowed because we are obedient to and compliant with the instructions of the CCJ last July,” President Granger told reporters at the sidelines of an event at the Ministry of the Presidency Wednesday morning.
He added, “So it’s uncomfortable for me to remain in this condition.”
The President reiterated that his focus remains on ensuring that there is a clean and credible voters list before heading to the polls.
“My mindset is on a clean list, credible elections in the shortest time possible. This is what I have been doing all year, this is what I’ve been saying, I’ve written to the previous Chairman of the Commission, I’ve had several meetings with the Leader of the Opposition and no one could be more anxious than I am to ensure that the elections are held as quickly as possible.”
The Head of State once again noted that it is for GECOM to indicate when it is ready to hold elections.
“The GECOM has exclusive authority in determining its readiness and I have publicly announced that as soon as I hear from the Commission that it is ready, it has the resources and the staff, ballot papers are printed and all the requirements are complied with under the law, I will then consider making an announcement as soon as possible afterwards.
“This is not in my hands, people are calling on me, people are picketing, but I cannot do anything, because I do not have the authority; I cannot go out and print ballot papers, I cannot appoint returning officers, I cannot detail where polling stations will be.
“These are functions given exclusively to the elections commission and I don’t interfere, I don’t intrude and I cannot give instructions to the elections commission.”
The President noted that any elections timeline provided by GECOM “must be achievable.”
“I have not prorogued Parliament, I have not dissolved Parliament, I have ensured that major institutions remain intact; the National Assembly is intact.
“I have not interfered with the judiciary when I did not agree with one of their rulings, I took it to the next higher court…
“The Executive has not been removed, the Cabinet has not been removed, I am still President until I am replaced as President, which is not likely,” Mr Granger said.
He explained that the Government will return to Parliament to extend the deadline for the elections once an agreement is reached with Parliamentary Opposition.
“I am aware of the constitutional requirement to return to Parliament to seek an extension and I see that in the final analysis, this would have to be done.”
‘Caretaker’ Pres. Granger “parroting excuses” to hold elections – PPP
The Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has responded to President David Granger’s address to the nation, where he reiterated his stance of waiting on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) before he announces a date for elections.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) notes the continued parroting of excuses voiced by the caretaker president, David Granger, during an address to the nation on Monday (September 16, 2019), which was astoundingly riddled with distortions.
While all Guyanese are clear that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is an independent commission, it must be reiterated that GECOM is also subservient to the very Constitution that guarantees its independence.
However, as has been evidenced before, the caretaker president conveniently ignores this fact and attempts to convey the impression that GECOM, being an independent body, can afford to ignore its obligation to comply with the Constitution of Guyana.
In its order after ruling that the no-confidence motion was validly passed on December 21, 2018, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), on July 12, 2019, was clear that: “The Guyana Elections Commission (“GECOM”) has the responsibility to conduct that election and GECOM too must abide by the provisions of the Constitution.”
While the caretaker president also repeats his line about “credible elections within the shortest possible time” he has done nothing to comply with the constitutional provisions that became activated with the passage of the no-confidence motion.
The Caribbean Court of Justice had ordered that: the provisions of Article 106(6) and (7) of the Constitution apply to a No Confidence motion; and that upon the passage of this motion of no confidence in the Government, the clear provisions of Article 106 immediately became engaged. The caretaker president remains deliberately oblivious to this order. As per Article 106 of the Constitution, the Cabinet has not resigned.
Also, the Granger-led government has not been acting in a caretaker capacity – rather it
has been deliberately delaying the elections while engaging in a heist of taxpayers’ monies and public resources in the most corrupt acts our people have seen in Guyanese history.
The caretaker president claims that he acted “expeditiously” to ensure that credible and regional elections are held and to substantiate this, he referred to the meetings that led to the appointment of a new GECOM Chairperson.
The caretaker president seems to have selective amnesia, forgetting that it was his illegal action – the unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman – that led to the need for a new appointment in the first place.
The caretaker president talks up his assurance in the actions of his Commission to ready itself for constitutionally mandated General and Regional Elections – which ought to have been held since March 21, 2019 – even as his minions at the Elections Commission advance actions that will delay Elections.
How then can the Commission act expeditiously to advise on its readiness for Elections?
The caretaker president must do the decent thing and be faithful to the spirit and letter of the Constitution.
Address to the Nation by President David Granger
The Elections Commission has exclusive and explicit responsibility for the conduct of general and regional elections in accordance with the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (at Article 62).
The Constitution (at Article 162 (1) I) states, further, that: “…The Elections Commission shall have such functions connected with or relating to the registration of electors or the conduct of elections…”
The Elections Commission is insulated from political influence, instruction or interference and its independence is safeguarded by the Constitution. The independence of the Commission and the integrity of the electoral process are essential to ensuring elections which express the will of the electorate. I am committed to providing governmental assistance to the Commission to ensure that the forthcoming elections will not be contaminated by mismanagement or malpractice.
The Elections Commission has a constitutional obligation, therefore, to ensure that everything necessary would be done to deliver credible elections. It is the Commission’s task to ensure that adequate resources are acquired; personnel are employed; the Official List of Electors which enfranchises all eligible voters is published; administrative mechanisms to ensure efficient polling and the counting and tabulation of results are implemented; and that the laws of Guyana are enforced.
I have emphasised, repeatedly, that the imperative has been to provide every assistance to the Commission to enable it to conduct “credible elections at the earliest time possible.” My position remains unaltered.
I have acted expeditiously throughout the year to ensure that credible general and regional elections are held. I consulted the Elections Commission on two occasions. I consulted the Leader of the Opposition on three occasions to select a new Chairman of the Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution (at Article 161 (1)). I appointed Justice Claudette Singh, SC, CCH, as Chairman of the Commission and administered the Oath of Office to her on 29th July 2019.
I have full confidence in the Chairman’s independence, integrity and impartiality and her intention and ability to perform the functions of her office in the best interest of the Guyanese people.
A Governmental team met the Chairman and Commissioners of the Elections Commission on Friday 13th September 2019 to ascertain its readiness to conduct the elections. A Parliamentary Opposition team met the Commission, also, on Tuesday 10th September. We are assured that the Commission is doing everything possible to prepare to conduct credible elections at the earliest time possible.
The Elections Commission must be allowed to continue the task of preparing for the forthcoming general and regional elections. The Commission has an obligation to assure the public that it is ready to conduct credible elections and to advise the President of its readiness to do so. I could then dissolve Parliament and issue a proclamation appointing a date on which elections could be held in accordance with the Constitution.
It would be reckless and irresponsible, on my part, to appoint a date for elections without the Commission’s advice and assurance that it would be ready to conduct elections on such a date.
I call on all Guyanese to have confidence in the Elections Commission. I am ready to be guided by the Chairman’s assessment of the Commission’s preparedness to conduct elections.
I urge everyone to uphold the Constitution and respect the judgment of our independent institutions and the people who have been appointed to manage them. I look forward to the Commission’s recommendation to conduct credible elections at the earliest time possible.