GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Mar 11, CMC – The non-governmental organisation (NGO), Civil Society Forum (CSF), on Monday called on President David Granger to name a date for fresh regional and general elections as the main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) also intensified its call for voters to be allowed to elect a new government following the collapse of the coalition government last December.
CSF, which includes religious, human rights, private sector and at least one trade union, said in a statement that the failure by President Granger not to name a date for the election “has increased the probability that the government will be accused of being illegal after March 21”.
On December 21 last year, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo successfully moved a motion of no confidence in the three-and-a-half-year-old government after he received the support of Charrandas Persaud, a government backbencher, in the 65-member National Assembly.
The government had previously enjoyed a one-seat majority and has since appealed the ruling of a High Court that the motion was valid, and its refusal to issue a conservatory order halting the 90-day countdown to the polls.
Under the Guyana constitution, on the successfully passage of a motion of no confidence, fresh elections must be held no later than 90 days unless the National Assembly, by a special majority, approves an extension.
The PPP has called on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to ensure that the elections are held no later than April 21, even though it had previously called for the elections to be held by March 19. GECOM has said it cannot hold credible elections during that time-frame and is proposing a date in July.
In its statement, the CSF said it was prepared to offer its services to the various stakeholders “to ensure the success of their efforts”.
It is also urging Granger and Jagdeo “to recognize their respective responsibilities to honour the Constitution and uphold the law and to hold themselves accountable for finding a solution to this growing crisis which endangers our democracy”.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo has warned the government that its members could be chased out of office after March 21.
“We are going here in Berbice and right across Guyana, when the ministers or Granger or (Prime Minister Moses) Nagamootoo, come here after the 21st of March to say to them, walk behind them, chase them out! They’re gonna be illegal. Say to them ‘they’re illegal’,” he told a PPP rally commemorating the birth of the party’s co-founder and former president, Dr. Cheddi Jagan.
“We are not going to accept any delay in the elections,” Jagdeo said.
He has predicted a “massive defeat” for the government in the elections, telling supporters that a new PPP administration would also move to arrest and jail ministers on corruption charges.
“Many of them will be in jail because of actual corruption, not rumours of corruption,” he said.