Jan 07, 2017 News
The APNU+AFC administration has denied it has already made up its mind in the choice for
a new Chairperson for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, during the first post-Cabinet press briefing of the year, disclosed that the process of selection is ongoing.
On Tuesday, the Cabinet of Ministers was updated. Former Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, who served over a decade, had late last year signaled his intentions to resign. His last day on the job was supposed to be November 30th.
Explaining the process, Harmon, said it is clearly set out in Article 161 of the Constitution. It involves the President writing Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, to supply a list of six nominees after consultations with the wider society.
This process was apparently followed by the Opposition Leader and a list was submitted to the President. Since then, the President has requested curriculum vitae (CVs) of the six persons.
Making it clear that there is “some amount of misinformation out there”, Harmon stressed that if unsatisfied with the current list, the President can ask the Opposition Leader for a fresh one.
If after that is done, there are still persons who do not fit the requirements, the President can then call in Jagdeo for “meaningful consultations” and if no agreement is reached, the President has the right to appoint somebody whom in his estimation is right for the job.
According to Harmon, there is no truth that President Granger has skipped the steps and has already chosen someone.
“Certainly that is not the case. I want to lay that to rest right now,” the Minister assured.
The six persons submitted last month are Major-General (Ret’d) Norman Mc Lean, Lawrence Lachmansingh, James G. Rose, PhD, Ramesh Dookoo, Ryhaan Shah and Christopher L. Ram.
The list had been dispatched by the Leader of the Opposition to the President on December 21, 2016 but Granger had asked for the CVs.
Last month, President Granger said that the CVs would help to better determine him determine the suitability of the candidates.
”I replied to him (Jagdeo) right away, because although those six names might be known to the public, I could not be sure that their nominations were in accordance with the Constitution. I have asked him to let me have copies of the Curriculum Vitae of each one, so that it can guide me in making my decision. So that is where we are now, and I would say that the ball is in his court. I would say let me have the resume for the persons so we can go ahead with this process. It is very important that we have a Chairman as early as possible,” the President had said.
Article 161 (2) of the Constitution states that “…the Chairman of the Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or who has held office as a Judge of a Court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a Court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such Judge, or any other fit and proper person, to be appointed by the President from a list of six persons, not unacceptable to the President, submitted by the Leader of the Opposition after meaningful consultation with the non-governmental political parties represented in the National Assembly. Provided that if the Leader of the Opposition fails to submit a list as provided for, the President shall appoint a person who holds or has held office as a Judge of a Court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a Court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such Court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge.”
The names would have come after weeks of public and internal consultations by the Opposition— the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) — with civil society, including religious and other groups.
Surujbally’s resignation was touted to be effective November 30, 2016. However, he remains on the job, but on leave.
GECOM is the authority that oversees general and regional elections and local government polls in Guyana.
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