A meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to discuss the way forward to general elections in keeping with the country’s constitution, ended in a stalemate on Wednesday.
This as the country faces a constitutional crisis as the 90-days window to hold general elections following a successful no confidence motion in December 2018, looms.
Wednesday’s meeting between the two leaders, was supposed to “focus on ensuring that the Constitution is not violated and that general and regional elections are held in accordance with Article 106 (6) and 106 (7) following the December 21, 2018 passage of the No confidence motion”.
At the end of the meeting, which lasted approximately one hour, President Granger told reporters that it was useful and fruitful, adding that both sides were working to deal with the issues that now confront the South American nation.
“The engagement this morning, focused largely on the role of GECOM because it is GECOM, an independent agency which could determine when elections can be held.
“The President or executive or any other body, cannot intervene, cannot intrude, cannot interfere, with the work of GECOM. So we have to allow GECOM to do its work”, President Granger.
Granger said the opposition leader was insisting that a date be set for the elections before they can proceed with further discussions on the substantive matter of getting opposition support in Parliament to extend the life of the parliament beyond March 21.
The Guyana president said he could not commit to a date unless he had a fair idea as to how much time the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) needed to ready themselves for regional and general elections.
“I would like to meet the entire Commission to determine what their needs are, in terms of time and money.
“So the door is open and the Leader of the Opposition has agreed to meet again; and the people of Guyana could be assured that we are working to ensure that credible elections are held within the shortest time as possible”, President Granger said.
However, Opposition leader Jagdeo is insisting that elections be by April 30 – his proposed date for the extension to the constitutional 90-days.
The governing coalition and its three elections commissioners had previously stated that house-too-house registration to sanitize the voters’ registration list and to ensure that people registered at their current addresses before the next general elections.
Jagdeo said he is not interested in that exercise as it will further delay the elections.
“We are not accepting them going to house-to-house registration because house-to-house registration will delay the elections for at least eight months and we are not interested in that at all,” Jagdeo said.
He added that one way to ensure no voter fraud is for the government to provide funding for three polling agents from the coalition, “to sit in every polling place to make sure only people, who are eligible to vote, vote so that you don’t have to worry about the quality of the list or padding”.
The Guyana Elections Commission has indicated that the earliest date by which elections could be held would be sometime in July of this year. In the meantime, the Commission has voted by majority to move ahead with its 2019 work plan, which includes house-to-house registration.
The former president says he is willing to meet with the president again but it must not be “a date far into the future”.