President David Granger has once again rejected a list of six nominees for the position of
Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission. This was communicated to Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, yesterday via a letter from the President.
Jagdeo, as Leader of the Opposition, is required by Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana to submit a list of six names to the President from which he shall choose one person to sit as Chairperson of the Commission.
This is the second time that Granger is rejecting a list of nominees supplied by Jagdeo. The nominees on the second list included Justice of Appeal B.S Roy (ret’d), Justice William Ramlal (ret’d), Ms Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Attorney-at-law Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-law Nadia Sagar and Gerald Gouveia.
In his letter to the opposition leader, Granger said, “I have examined the Curricula Vitae of the six persons in light of the criteria defined in my letter to you dated 2017.03.14. I have found the list to be ‘unacceptable’ within the meaning of the Constitution and of those criteria.”
Granger had announced his rejection of Jagdeo’s first list in January of this year at the Annual Media Brunch at State House. He criticised the first list by saying that there were no judges among the six names as is required by the Constitutional provisions.
The names on the first list were Lawrence Latchmansingh, Rhyaan Shah, James Rose, Normal McLean, Ramesh Dookoo and Christopher Ram, none of whom are judges.
Following the first rejection, Jagdeo had asked the President to explain what criteria the nominees would have to satisfy so that the next list would be deemed acceptable by His Excellency.
In a correspondence to Jagdeo, the President outlined the qualities of the Chairman of GECOM to be:
1. The candidate should be a person who is qualified to be a judge of the High Court under Article 129 of the Constitution and under Section 5 of the High Court Act, Cap 3:02;
2. That person should have been an attorney-at-law for a minimum of seven years, according to Section 5 of the High Court Act, Cap 3:02 and,
3. In the absence of one and two above “any other fit and proper person” should be appointed according to Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.
The Head of State went further to say that these categories are necessary since the persons should have the following characteristics:
-That person will discharge his or her functions without fear or favour, that is, he or she will not allow any person or organization to influence him or her to compromise his or her neutrality.
-That person will discharge his or her functions neutrally, between the two opposing parties, as he or she would have done in court between two opposing litigants.
-That person will not be an activist in any form (gender, racial, religious etc).
-That persons should have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness and diligence in the discharge of his or her duty as Chairman.
However, in taking this into consideration during consultation exercises, it appears as though the new list is still not acceptable by President Granger.
Upon receiving the letter from the President yesterday, the Office of the Leader of the Opposition explained that Granger’s letter does not indicate what next steps, if any, the President requires to be taken.
However, according to Article 161 (2), “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 Office of the Leader of the Opposition said that it notes with deep concern the cavalier and callous manner in which the President continues to express no confidence in and denigrate the professional reputation, integrity and competence of Guyanese of high calibre.
Jagdeo’s office believes that the President is bent on unilaterally selecting a person of his choice in violation of the letter and spirit of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution and the Carter Formula.
“The Leader of the Opposition hereby assures that should the President proceed along this unconstitutional, undemocratic and diabolical path there will be litigation and other consequences for which the President will be responsible.”
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