Civil society worried as President says no deadline for elections

first_img…Court cannot instruct GECOM when to host elections – GrangerPresident David Granger on Thursday met with members of the private sector, civil society and the Diplomatic Corp to provide an update on the political situation, but instead of assuring clarity, it triggered uneasiness and dissatisfaction among stakeholders.President David Granger meeting with members of the diplomatic communityHis presentation to the groups mainly circled around his interpretation of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) consequential orders on July 12, which was conflicting to what is construed.After delivering its ruling in June 18, 2019, the Court then proceeded to issue the consequential orders stipulating that the Cabinet must resign and call elections in keeping with constitutional deadline— that is, three months.Since this deadline had already elapsed from the passage of the No-Confidence Motion on December 21, the countdown would’ve commenced on June 18, putting an end to the deadline to September 18 of this year.Members of Civil Society at State House on ThursdayThis was backed by Chief Justice Roxanne George’s clarifications on Tuesday that indeed, a three-month deadline should be upheld when she corrected reports in the media.In contradiction, President Granger gave his interpretation that there is no timeline for when the country should head to the polls.He quoted CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders stating, “Article 106 of the Constitution invests in the President and the National Assembly and implicitly in the Elections Commission responsibilities that impact on the precise timing of the elections which must be held. It would not therefore be right for the Court by the issuance of coercive orders or detailed directives to presume to instruct these bodies on how they must act and, therefore, pre-empt the performance by them of their constitutional responsibilities. It is, therefore not, for example, the role of the Court to establish a date on or by which the elections must be held or to lay down timelines and deadlines which in principle are the preserve of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives”.GTUC President Coretta McDonaldHe added, “These are the words of Justice Adrian Saunders, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice. So, there is no date issued by the CCJ, there are no timelines, there are no deadlines”.Granger then mandated that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must act by the Constitution and cannot act on advice from the courts or himself.“The independence of the Elections Commission is safeguarded by the Constitution. It is insulated from political influence, instruction and interference. The President cannot influence, the President cannot instruct, the President cannot interfere, the President cannot tell the Elections Commission when elections must be held, neither can the Courts”.After his address, stakeholders were somewhat dissatisfied with the outcome of the event, while some expressed worry over the Head-of-State’s interpretation. Others were expecting the President to open the forum for questions and have meaningful discussions on the way forward.GCCI President Nicholas BoyerPresident of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Nicholas Boyer, was concerned about the conflicting remarks from the President after he reflected on the Court’s orders and the Chief Justice’s position.“We obviously saw the Chief Justice give a clarification to the press and in that clarification, she said that election must be held by September 2019 as her understanding, so that conflicted with what the President said…It causes some concerns because there are two conflicting interpretations,” Boyer expressed.Coretta McDonald, who serves as President of the Guyana Trade Unions Congress, said she was expecting the Head of State to engage those that were summoned and accept pertinent questions that were brewing. She conveyed a sense of ‘shock’ and insisted that clarity was lacking.“We were left like halfway. We were like shocked because we came here with the expectation that we would be able to ask questions and to have some other issues being clarified. The intention of the President was not to answer questions, but to share whatever information he shared with us,” McDonald told media operatives.She added, “We represent quite a lot of this population and our members, they’re asking questions and if we have no answers to give them, then you can imagine what is going to happen. As we speak, there is lots and lots of tension within our communities and we have to be able to quell those kinds of tensions”.On the other hand, President of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union, Lincoln Lewis spoke on behalf of citizens and the dissatisfaction experienced when governance is not addressed or taken seriously.“Elections is only a means to acquire enough political power. After that, the issue is about governance. Over the years, while there have been concerns about elections, all the political parties who felt dissatisfied went to the court and the court has pronounced. Our problem here as citizens is that after elections, and there exists dissatisfaction, groups and groups complain but we’re not getting the results that we so desire to have. We thought that this would have been an ample opportunity for the President, the Leader of the Opposition, and the respective teams to include in whatever they think about, whatever they talk about, the issues of governance”.Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall responded moments later to the Head of State’s disclosure, reminding that the judicial system is the “guardian” of the Constitution, which grants boundless jurisdiction.“It is elementary that the Judiciary is the guardian of our Constitution. In this regard, it is possessed of an unlimited jurisdiction and power to make such orders, grant such writs and issue such directions, that are necessary, to each and every organ of State, to obey and comply with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, in giving effect to the supremacy of the Constitution; as all are subject and subservient to, and none is above, the Constitution”.Diplomatic communityEarlier in the day, Granger met with members of the diplomatic community, where he also sought to update them on the political atmosphere that has been bellowing throughout the entire country.His utterances rooted for House-to-House Registration— a move that was heavily criticised.“The proclamation of an unrealistic date by the Executive is ruled out by the Constitution which gives certain powers to the Elections Commission. The adoption of a list by any agency outside of the Elections Commission is prohibited by our Constitution and would damage the elections if held an attempt was held under such a spurious date or with such a spurious list… A new list needs to be constituted and it has been recommended that this should be done through a process of House-to-House Registration. This is entirely a matter for the Elections Commission, it is not a matter for any political party or the Executive. The Commission must decide”.last_img