GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thursday September 26, 2019 – March 2, 2020 will be Elections Day in Guyana. President David Granger announced the date during an address to the nation yesterday evening, saying it was the earliest possible occasion to hold general and regional elections, given the time that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) says it will be ready to hold the polls.
His announcement came just shy of a week after GECOM chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh wrote to him indicating that the elections body would be able to deliver credible elections by the end of February next year.
The President said that hours after receiving that correspondence on September 19, he convened a meeting of available Cabinet ministers to discuss the timeline provided, and that was followed by a second meeting of the full Cabinet on Tuesday, when all members accepted the advice provided by the GECOM chairman.
“I met chairman of the Elections Commission, Justice Singh [on] Wednesday, when she discussed the statutory timelines for the upcoming general and regional elections….I am pleased to announce that, after discussions with chairman of the Elections Commission and with my Cabinet, the earliest possible date for the holding of General and Regional Elections will be on Monday, 2nd March, 2020,” he announced.
“Guyanese can now look to the Elections Commission to conduct credible elections within the time frame prescribed…We are on the right path to preserve our precious parliamentary democracy,” he added.
The polls will come more than a year after the coalition government lost a no-confidence vote in the National Assembly last December.
The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been insisting that the government is contravening the constitution and the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – which in June this year validated the passage of the motion –, by not holding elections by now.
But Granger said in his address yesterday evening that since the passage of the no-confidence motion, his administration had respected the decisions of the courts and upheld the Constitution.
“We challenged the validity of the no-confidence motion and defended the challenge to the constitutionality of the appointment of the Chairman of the Elections Commission. The legal processes were neither frivolous nor aimed at delaying the consequences of the no-confidence motion. They sought to clarify and interpret the Constitution and to ensure that general and regional elections would be conducted on the basis of a credible list,” he insisted.
“I have complied with the rulings of the courts, upheld the Constitution of Guyana and respected the National Assembly at all times. I engaged the Elections Commission from February 2019 repeatedly. I insisted that credible elections be held at the earliest possible time. Credible elections are essential to representative democracy.”
Under the Guyana Constitution, following the passage of a no-confidence vote against a government, an election is due within three months unless the National Assembly passes a resolution supported by at least two-thirds of the elected members to extend that period.
Taking the position that the provision is related to GECOM’s readiness to hold the elections, President Granger said the government must now return to the National Assembly to request the extension. The National Assembly reconvenes on October 10.