Jagdeo says to give talks one last chance despite reservations

-cites appeals from citizens, civil society, diplomatic corps

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo this evening says he will attend tomorrow’s meeting with President David Granger as a last effort to “offer the government a way out of the constitutional crisis and to keep Guyana in the democratic  fold of nations”.

A statement from his office follows:

Statement by the Office of the Leader of the Opposition

Having received a letter on February 25th 2019 from the Ministry of the Presidency inviting the Leader of the Opposition to a meeting with the President on March 6th, 2019 to discuss the following matters:

i)                   “The National Assembly’s constitutional role in the present situation; and

ii)                 The Guyana Elections Commission’s readiness and requirement for funding to enable it to conduct General and Regional elections”.

The Opposition rejected these grounds for the meeting in light of the apparent reluctance of the President to name a date for elections in accordance with article 106 (6) and 106 (7).

Recognizing that the date of March 21, 2019 was fast approaching without any indication by the President nor GECOM to meet the three months deadline, the Leader of the Opposition offered a reasonable and feasible proposal to the President in the national interest and to prevent the country slipping into a constitutional crisis.

The letter dispatched on March 4, 2019 stated:

“I am proposing to the President for his consideration, the following:-

i)                   The date of the general and regional elections to be held before the expiration of the present voters’ list on April 30, 2019;

ii)                 No new contracts to be awarded by the State, including Regional Democratic Councils, and, State-owned corporations after March 21, 2019;

iii)               No new agreements, loans, grants, land leases, or any other such agreements or contracts after March 21, 2019, that bind Government;

iv)               No abuse of State resources for partisan activities/purposes;

v)                 Access to the State-owned media by all the contesting political parties.

On the agreement of your Government to these proposals, the Parliamentary Opposition will be prepared to lend its support for the two-thirds majority required to comply with Article 106 (7) for an extension beyond March 21, 2019.

I, therefore, am proposing that the meeting focus exclusively on the date for these elections.

Further, l believe that my proposal to hold general and regional elections before April 30, 2019 is reasonable and feasible with a claims and objections period, provided that GECOM acts in good-faith and in conformity with its mandate and the Constitution. This proposal will ensure that the Constitution remains intact and prevents our nation slipping into a constitutional crisis.

If my proposal finds favour with the President, l shall be prepared to meet him on March 6, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. or at any other time.”

This afternoon, the Leader of the Opposition received a reply from Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, stating that “the content of these letters has been conveyed to the President who advises that he is prepared to meet with you on Wednesday March 6th at 11:00 hours at the Ministry of the Presidency and to discuss the issues raised in your aforementioned letters.”

Many people believe that nothing positive will come out of the meeting tomorrow given the track-record of duplicity of the Granger administration thus far. The Opposition Leader shares some of these misgivings. Nevertheless, having been approached by many Guyanese, civil society bodies and members of the diplomatic corps to make one last attempt to avert the constitutional crisis that the President, with a complicit GECOM, is leading our nation into, the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to make one more good-faith attempt in the interest of the nation, and, will attend the meeting.

This is the last attempt by the Parliamentary Opposition to offer the government a way out of the constitutional crisis and to keep Guyana in the democratic fold of nations.

If the meeting fails, the true nature of the government will be seen by all those who urged the Opposition Leader to meet.

Tomorrow will be a test of the integrity, credibility and sincerity of the President; he will be tested as to whether he can be trusted “as a man of his word” to put our nation, its future and its people first on a foundation of constitutional and parliamentary democracy. This will be a test as to whether the constitution or ‘power lust’ wins out.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019  

Office of the Leader of the Opposition

Co-operative Republic of Guyana

304 Church Street, Queenstown



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