Army denies “preparing for elections in June”

first_imgThe Guyana Defence Force (GDF) has denied local reports that the army is in “preparation for National Elections in June”.Following the publication by an online news report referencing a leaked training document, which allegedly ordered the military to prepare for General and Regional Elections in five months, the GDF on Tuesday evening said it is alarmed by the news article.Insisting that it has “not authorised any such release” or made any such pronouncements, the army said it is aware that it is not the authority for specifying the date and/or time for which elections should be held. However, in the same breath, it did not rule out that such exercises are ongoing in eventual anticipationChief of Staff of the GDF, Brigadier Patrick Westof the impending polls.“Any Force will always have intelligent anticipation of tasks likely to be undertaken. These tasks once identified are issued to the subordinates as “Warning Orders” alerting them to the nature of the probable tasks and should not be misconstrued to mean anything else. The Guyana Defence Force has always respected the rule of law and due process, and will continue to maintain a professional Force which contributes to the development of the nation,” the missive from the military stated.This new development comes even as the High Court is currently hearing two cases filed on the December 21, 2018 passage of the Opposition’s No-Confidence Resolution – one contesting the validity of former AFC Member of Parliament Charrandas Persaud’s vote given his dual citizenship and another challenging the 33-32 vote, instead of a 34 majority that was used to pass the motion.Those cases came up for hearing on Tuesday and acting Chief Justice Roxane George has committed to a ruling by the end of this month.Both Government and the Opposition have agreed to have the court expedite these proceedings as they await the outcomes to determine the way forward.In fact, following a meeting with President David Granger last week, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has stated that they have up until mid-April for the hosting of General and Regional Elections since the current list of electors, which was used for the November Local Government polls, will expire at that time. As such, the former Head of State is pushing for elections to be held within this timeframe, noting that it is sufficient for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to be ready.While the elections body has already indicated its preparedness to deliver, both the Government and Opposition Chief Whips, Amna Ally and Gail Teixeira, have been identified to meet with the Commission to determine its readiness. Efforts have since been undertaken to fix that meeting.Since the coalition Government assumed office in 2015, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) have often raised concerns over certain measures taken that sought to “militarise” the country following the mass appointments of army officers to senior Government positions. In fact, several retired GDF Officers were appointed in key advisory positions within the Government, which is led by retired Brigadier David Granger.Concerns of stakeholders of the army and elections dates back to the 1970s when there was mass rigging of the 1973 elections and the killing of two PPP operatives, accompanying ballot boxes.The GDF was reportedly pivotal to the rigging with soldiers deployed to seize legal ballot boxes which were dumped and replaced by fake ballots. Young voters Jagan Ramessar and Bholanauth Parmanand were fatally shot, and dozens more were injured by the bullets from members of the military at the No 63 Primary School.Hundreds had gathered outside the school to ensure that their votes were counted at the Place of Poll; that is, at the school where they voted. The army arrived at the close of poll, and the people, in protest, attempted to block the military from removing the ballot boxes from the polling station when bullets from the barrel of the soldier’s gun began to fly wildly into the crowd.last_img