The Government of Guyana has flayed what it described as a “flagrantly” biased editorial in Saturday’s edition of the Stabroek News.
The editorial titled ‘Mr. Granger and the elections’, is pointedly misleading and is estranged from the facts and riddled with reckless and outlandish conclusions which have no basis in reality.
FULL STATEMENT BELOW
The Honourable Chief Justice ordered thusly in her ruling of Thursday March 11, 2020: “[I]t would be for the Returning Officer and the Deputy Returning Officer to decide whether to restart or continue the process. It is their decision to make. And I would also repeat here it would be their decision to decide what is the best method for tabulating the Statements of Poll. So, I want to emphasise that everybody else who thinks they can have an input and a say it is not their statutory duty.”
The Chief Justice could not have been more explicit in her ruling. Stabroek News appears to have skirted over this most carefully precise declaration by the Chief Justice. Further, what Stabroek News did not mention in its clearly-biased and malicious editorial was that the revered independence of the Guyana Elections Commission is sacrosanct and rigidly and robustly safeguarded by the Constitution. It is insulated from political influence, instruction and interference. The Constitution at Article 62 charges the Commission with the conduct of elections. It states: “Elections shall be independently supervised by the Elections Commission in accordance with the provisions of Article 162.”
The Constitution at 162 (1) (a) mandates that the commission: “…shall exercise general direction and supervision over the registration of electors and the administrative conduct of all elections of members of the National Assembly….”
Unlike Stabroek News’ insinuation, the Commission must be allowed and was allowed by President David Granger and the Executive to function independently. President Granger did not seek to influence, interfere or instruct in any form whatsoever. To do so would have been a breach of the Constitution.
On March 9, in an address to the nation, President Granger was clear when he said: “At all times, I have acted in accordance with the Constitution and Laws of Guyana. After the elections on March 2, the nation awaited the declaration of the results by the elections commission after completing its work. GECOM is an independent constitutional agency over which I and the Executive have no control. I assure you, that as President, I cannot, did not and will not interfere in the work of GECOM.” The government, since the passage of the no-confidence motion in the National Assembly on December21, 2018, sought to respect the decision of the court. As was the government’s right and guided by the Speaker of the National Assembly, the validity of the no-c0nfidence motion was challenged. The government defended the challenge to the constitutionality of the appointment of the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
The legal processes which were initiated were neither frivolous nor calculated to delay the consequences of the no-confidence vote. In fact, they sought to explain more clearly and to interpret certain provisions of the Constitution. The legal challenges were taken to the Supreme Court, then to the Court of Appeal and, finally, to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana’s final court. The CCJ on June 18, 2019, decoded that the most sensible approach to appointing the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission was for the leader of the opposition and the President to communicate with each other, in good faith, and to discuss eligible candidates for the position before the formal submission of a list.
The President and the leader of the opposition met on July 4, 2019. On July 26, the President received, from the leader of the opposition, six names not unacceptable to him and on that same day Justice Claudette Singh was chosen from that list. On September 19, 2019, Justice Singh advised President Granger of the elections commission’s preparedness to hold elections by the end of February 2020.
On September 25, 2019, March 2, 2020 (the first Monday in March) was announced as Elections Day in Guyana. Due process and the rule of law and all constitutional provisions were dutifully adhered to. Where the court ruled, such rulings were scrupulously followed without deviation or delay. Stabroek News’ editorial seeks to enhance the carefully-crafted opposition narrative of foul play, when in fact, none such exists and all indications are that it is they, the opposition, in concert with their foreign agents who have been busy concocting and executing schemes designed to delay the electoral process and derail democracy in Guyana. The Government of Guyana rejects, in total, the biased Stabroek News editorial and calls on all Guyanese to be cognisant of Stabroek News’ obvious agenda of engendering destabilisation, discord and disenchantment.