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Guyana: President has to set date, not bound by GECOM’s recommendation – official

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Government-nominated Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, speaks with reporters outside GECOM’s Headquarters Thursday

(NEWS ROOM) — Government-nominated Commissioner of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Vincent Alexander, has made it clear that GECOM’s role is not to set a date for elections as that responsibility lies solely with President David Granger.

Mr Alexander spoke with the media following a meeting with the Chiefs of Mission of the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and the European Union on Thursday.

He rebuffed accusations that GECOM is flouting the country’s constitution by not being in a state of readiness for the holding of general and regional elections.

“…What people don’t seem to understand, [it] is not for GECOM to automatically go into preparing for election outside of an order from the President giving a date. The President has to give a date for elections and that is what GECOM has to work with because there are statutory dates leading up to that date.

“You can’t determine those statutory dates outside of an order. What is required of GECOM in the first instance is to state preparedness.

“So to accuse GECOM of flying in the face of the constitution is not to understand GECOM’s role. GECOM doesn’t set an election date. GECOM responds to a set election date and the fact that the emissaries were sent was a clear understanding by those who sent them and have to find out what is GECOM’ state of preparedness,” the GECOM Commissioner said.

GECOM on Tuesday voted to continue “normal activity” and to inform the President that new general elections cannot be held by the constitutional deadline.

With the passage of the No Confidence motion on December 21 that toppled the David Granger led Coalition, the Constitution dictates elections in 90 days, putting the deadline at March 21 unless a two thirds majority in the National Assembly agrees to an extension.

On Tuesday, the GECOM Chairman voted with the three Government nominated Commissioners for the President to be told that the March 21 deadline cannot be met, that there is no money for the holding of the elections and that GECOM goes ahead with House to House registration.

But according to Alexander, the President may not be legally obliged to take GECOM’s advice on when to set a date.

“But certainly in the spirit of the constitution, and in terms of a logical framework, one would expect him to take that advise and more than that…we have precedence of them taking advise,” Mr Alexander said.

At the meeting with the ABCE representatives, which lasted for some three hours, Mr Alexander said that Ray Davidson – Deputy High Commissioner of the United Kingdom to Guyana expressed the concern that the situation could affect investments in the country.

There was a comment which says, ‘we just want make you all aware of the fact…I think that was made by the British, if I’m not mistaken, that the state of things…could be affecting inwards investment.’”

According to Alexander, the ABCE representatives also asked about GECOM’s preparedness and House to House registration.

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