President Paula-Mae Weekes has blanked a request by the Progressive Empowerment Party (PEP), which was seeking to have the August 10 general election postponed, due to the rise in covid-19 cases locally.
In a letter dated July 30, the President responded to the PEP’s Phillip Alexander, stating that she does not see a need for the election to be postponed.
To that, Alexander said he finds it “remarkable, as the CMO himself, has said that a lot has changed and that we are in fact in community spread.”
The President noted that she had received a similar letter from another political party asking her to postpone the 2020 general election.
She said Alexander’s letter suggested he was well aware of the relevant sections of the Representation of the People Act by which any discretion exercised by the President is both guided and limited.
“While the President is to be satisfied by one or more of the sections of section 34 (1), the initial step of postponing the election is to be undertaken by the Executive, as noted in the marginal note to that section, which reads “Government authorised to adjourn polling day in event of emergency.”
The President added, any discretion to be exercised following the proclamation of an “outbreak of infectious disease” must be in the context of some dramatic and exponential change of circumstances since that time.
She added “While I am mindful of the increase in reported cases over the last few weeks, and the practices involved in campaigning and on polling day, nothing from the Ministry of Health, the Elections and Boundaries Commission, my own observation and assessment, or any other credible source informs me, that at this time, my discretion ought to be exercised in favour of postponing the general election.
Alexander said government is putting its head in the sand and “they’re putting the public at risk for political gain.”
With the news of eight more cases as of Thursday, Alexander has since written another request to the President.