President David Granger has extended an invitation to the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, to a consultation on Monday June 12, 2017 at the President’s Official Residence, State House, Georgetown.
This invitation was communicated to Jagdeo yesterday via a letter written by Minister of State Joseph Harmon. In the letter, Harmon explained to Jagdeo that he is writing on behalf of the President.
Harmon informed the Opposition Leader that the consultation concerns statements attributed to him, and carried in the media. Those comments were on Granger’s letter to Jagdeo rejecting the second list of nominees for chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
On Friday, Granger informed Jagdeo that after examining the names on the second list he found the nominees to be unacceptable within the meaning of Article 161 (2) of Constitution of Guyana and of the criteria which he outlined in his letter dated March 14, 2017.
The Constitution provides for the Leader of the Opposition to submit a list of six names to the President from which he shall choose one person to sit as Chairperson of GECOM.
The names on the second list were 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.
When Granger rejected the first list of nominees in January, Jagdeo had asked the President to outline the specific criteria which the nominees must fulfil. The names on the first list were Lawrence Latchmansingh, Rhyaan Shah, James Rose, Normal McLean, Ramesh Dookoo and Christopher Ram.
Responding to Jagdeo’s request, Granger penned in a correspondence the following qualities which each nominee must possess:
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 added that the aforementioned categories are of great import since those nominated must also possess 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.
In an interview with the Press and Publicity Unit of the Ministry of the Presidency, Granger said that every member on the list of nominees must conform to the criteria. He said that Jagdeo cannot put a person on the list that does not conform to the criteria which he would have outlined in March.
Despite being provided with the specifics, Jagdeo has once again failed to satisfy the President that his list is up to par with the requirements of the Constitution and the express criteria.
However, Jagdeo still has another shot with a third list. The President told the Ministry of the Presidency’s media team that Jagdeo must get it right. He said, “Nothing is ever settled until it is settled right and he has to get it right.”
Granger assured that he is prepared to work with Jagdeo for as long as it takes to have somebody selected who fits the criteria, satisfies the Constitution and is one that the people of Guyana could be happy with.
“I’m prepared to work with the Leader of the Opposition for as long as it takes, but I’m not going to give the people of Guyana the appointment of a person, who is not fit and proper in accordance with the Constitution or criteria, which have been laid out.”
Granger maintained that Jagdeo must submit a list that meets the criteria. “I expect that he would go back to the drawing board and produce a list, which conforms to those criteria. I’m quite serious. It’s an important appointment and I think it must be taken seriously.”
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