GEORGETOWN: Guyana President Donald Ramotar has announced that general and regional elections will be held on May 11, less than five years after his ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP) won the polls in November 2011.
In a radio and television address to the nation last week, Ramotar, who had been under pressure to name a date for the polls after proroguing Parliament last November, said the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) had assured him that it is prepared for the polls.
“As usual, I intent to invite international observers to be part of the elections process and I will expect the political parties, the security services and the people of Guyana to conduct themselves in a manner that would ensure continued peace and stability before, during and after the elections.
“We have a collective obligation to ensure the protection of the democratic gains we have made and for which we have endured so much as a nation to secure,” he said.
Ramotar said when he prorogued Parliament last November, he was attempting to avoid further political conflict and seek avenues of political accommodation between his administration and the parliamentary opposition parties.
“I had hoped that the period of prorogation would have allowed for extant tensions to ease and for all of the parliamentary parties to constructively engage the government. At all times I have acted in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.
“I also did it to enfranchise those persons who, through no fault of their own, could not get on the Voters Roll at the last election because of lack of source documents, mainly residents living in the hinterland,” he said.
However, the opposition claimed that Ramotar had decided on that course of action to prevent a motion of no confidence being tabled and debated in Parliament.
The motion, which had been submitted by the minority Alliance for Change (AFC) had the backing of the main opposition grouping, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU).
The two opposition groups control a one-seat majority in the 65-member Parliament.
Ramotar said the opportunities that prorogation provided for continued dialogue and engagements with the parliamentary opposition parties had not materialized.
“The parliamentary opposition adopted an inflexible position that they will not engage with me until parliament is reconvened,” he said. “I had hoped that they would have reconsidered this unproductive posture and meet with me so that we can discuss our differences and find solutions to advance the development of Guyana.”
He said that during the period when the Parliament was dissolved, his administration “paid strict adherence to the Constitution in administering the welfare of our nation.
“Further there were regular interactions with national and international stakeholders to keep them abreast with developments and my efforts to reach some level of political consensus.”
Ramotar, who is expected to be his party’s presidential candidate in the elections, said meetings were also held with GECOM “to emphasize the need for their readiness for holding free, fair, transparent and efficient elections”.
He said in light of the opposition’s failure to engage his administration in improving the socio-economic well-being of the population and the country, he has had no other option but to call the elections.