Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo

Georgetown, Guyana, June 19, 2019 (Guyana Chronicle): DESPITE the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) stating that its earliest possible date for the holding elections is November, Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, hours after the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that the no-confidence motion was validly passed, made calls for elections to be held within two to three months.

He told a news conference, at his Church Street office, that the incumbent government is on borrowed time and brushed aside President David Granger’s statement that on Tuesday, that elections will be held in November based on GECOM’s latest advice following the completion of house-to-house registration. Jagdeo affirmed that given the current circumstances, relative to the no-confidence motion, President Granger is not in possession of the legal powers allowed by the constitution, to call elections at any time.

“If it is a normal situation, then the President is empowered within the five years that he is elected to serve to call elections at any time and dissolve the parliament by proclamation….when you have a no- confidence motion that has been declared validly passed today, the no-confidence motion takes away that discretion from the President, he cannot determine when he holds elections again, he has to follow the rule,” Jagdeo said, which would have been in March; three months after the motion was passed.

Jagdeo said that elections should be called within two to three months, even after GECOM previously stated that November is within a practical time frame, for elections to be called.

“The principle is that elections should be held tomorrow, the practicality is two to three months,” the opposition leader said, adding that he is open to engaging the President on the processes that will expedite the holding of elections, which include consideration of a new GECOM Chairman, since the CCJ also ruled that Justice James Patterson was unconstitutionally appointed by President Granger.

While People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Attorney, Douglas Mendes, previously beseeched the CCJ to have Justice Patterson remain in office, to allow for the holding of early elections, the party’s general secretary, on Tuesday, said that Patterson should vacate the office and he is willing to meet with the President earliest, for consideration of the appointment of a new chairman.

While hoping for elections to be held no later than September, Jagdeo said that the PPP will be going into full elections mode from today. He also changed his position on the PPP supporters taking to the streets following the no-confidence ruling being in their favour and said that now is not the time for gloating and triumphalist behaviour, but to focus on ensuring that early elections are called. The opposition leader said Tuesday’s ruling is not a victory for the PPP, but one for Guyana. He said that government is illegal and should only act in the capacity as care taker of the state.

However, according to Article 106 (7): “Notwithstanding its defeat, the government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall, by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the elections.

” Attorney General, Basil Williams, had argued that the Constitution does not provide for the “immediate” resignation of Cabinet, saying such a move would cripple the government’s ability to finance the holding of elections by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) or provide critical services to the people of Guyana. The attorney general said, while Article 106 (6) of the Constitution provides for the resignation of Cabinet, including the President, if the government is defeated in a vote of confidence, it did not specify a time. He argued that timeframes were only provided in Article 106 (7).