Commonwealth Secretary General Calls on Guyana to Name Date for Elections

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Patricia Scotland

LONDON – Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has called on President David Granger and “all relevant stakeholders and institutions” to immediately set a date for fresh regional and general elections in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.

A statement issued by the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat on Monday said that Scotland is urging all stakeholders “to restore constitutional rule in Guyana by immediately setting an early election date in consonance with its constitution, enabling elections to be held without further delay”.

The Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which is the country’s highest court, had in July said that the vote of no confidence which had been passed last December against Granger’s coalition administration was valid and urged all parties to adhere to the provisions of the country’s constitution.

Under the Guyana Constitution, the elections should take place 90 days after the vote of no confidence is passed. The Constitution also makes provision for an extension of the period based only on a two-thirds majority vote in the Parliament.

President Granger has said in the past that he would only announce a date for the elections after he has been given the go ahead by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) that it is prepared to host the event.

The Dominica-born Commonwealth Secretary-General said she had taken note of the CCJ ruling and that the Court “was clear that the Guyana Constitution sets out certain requirements for the time of an election after the valid passing of a no confidence motion.

“The rule of law and constitutional governance are fundamental Commonwealth values to which Guyana has subscribed,” she said in the statement.

“In this regard, and in accordance with the ruling of the CCJ, a general election in Guyana is now constitutionally overdue. A general election should be held in accordance with the unambiguous constitutional imperative to do so,” the statement said, noting that Secretary-General has spoken with the GECOM Chair, retired justice Claudette Singh and discussed Commonwealth support to GECOM.

Last week, Singh said an election can be held here by the end of February next year.

The main opposition People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which has been campaigning for the early poll after successfully tabling the motion of no confidence, said it is disappointed that the polls would most likely be held in February next year.

In a joint statement last week, the United States, Britain and the European Union, said “the prevailing political uncertainty undermines Guyanese institutions, compromises economic opportunities and delays development”. – CMC

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