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Guyana: Jagdeo denies compromising on election date

By CMC

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Bharrat Jagdeo addressing meeting (CMC Photo)

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Feb 17, CMC – Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo denies telling a broad-based Civil Society Forum that he is open to a compromise on the date for regional and general elections in Guyana after the coalition government of President David Granger had been defeated in a motion of no confidence last month.

“I have said there is one date in my mind, March 19. Beyond that we go into unconstitutional territory. Absolutely no agreement and when civil society urges me to meet with the President I said to them they themselves could not secure a meeting with the President although they have been trying for several weeks,” Jagdeo told a meeting here.

He said he had informed the grouping that the last time he met with President Granger “from the moment we left the office, the President then spoke with the press and said we reached an agreement how the National Assembly would function and how the executive would function”.

“That was inaccurate,” Jagdeo said, adding “so right now I am being urged to have a meeting with the president when he is saying we not even interested in elections now.”

“What am I meeting with him to discuss now,” he added.

Last Thursday, following the meeting with the Civil Society Forum, an official of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Captain Gerry Gouveia was quoted as saying that “the Forum’s position is that there should be some level of compromise and so while the Forum would like to see compliance with the constitution, the Forum is open and urged the Opposition Leader to meet with the President and come to some kind of reasonable compromise within the extension that GECOM had actually said that they could be ready for a July elections”.

Chief elections officer, Keith Lowenfield has said that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) would not be in a position to hold the elections within the 90 day period as set out by the Constitution after a government is defeated by a vote of no confidence.

Jagdeo successfully tabled the motion of no confidence on December 21, 2018 after it received the backing of then government back bencher Charrandas Persaud. His vote ensure that the coalition, A Partnership for National unity (APNU) was unable to defend its slender one seat majority in the 65-member National Assembly.

The government has since filed an appeal against the High Court ruling that the motion was valid and has refused a conservatory order that would have put a hold on the polls.

Gouveia said that during the Forum Jagdeo appeared poised to strike a compromise for elections to be held in July based on a claims and objections period for the voters’ list which would expire on April 30, 2019.

But Jagdeo told the meeting that it was important for them to know “exactly what our position is.

“Sometimes when they are filtered through the media ad they are shared by third parties it creates a ton of confusion in the minds of people”.

He said during his meeting with the Civil Society Forum, which is similar to what he was now addressing “we had extensive engagement and the impending crisis” and media reports after the talks indicated that he had agreed to some form of a compromise on the election date.

“This is totally in accurate. Totally inaccurate and would mislead the entire country,” he said, adding that the country would have been lead to believe “I agreed to this”

In his address, Jagdeo said that the Guyana is now faced with a “difficult choice.
“We know we are heading to a constitutional crisis in a short period from now. And that crisis will have serious implications for all of Guyana, our wellbeing, our ability to deliver services to people and will affect our standing in the world.

“Yet we seem to have a government that if it is not oblivious to these consequences is totally ignoring the implications for Guyana because they want to hang on to power at any costs,” he said.

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