Accusations against the coalition government, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change, of planning to stall the next elections, were yesterday addressed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who denied
any truth to the allegations.
Harmon was at the time fielding questions at the Post-Cabinet Press Briefing yesterday. He said that the administration of President David Granger has made it clear that it has no intention of either lengthening or shortening the term of office.
The Minister said that the next elections scheduled for 2020 will be called, and General and Regional elections will be conducted as required by the Constitution of Guyana.
“At the time when elections are to be called, they will be called. So you can put that matter to rest about trying to delay any elections.”
Harmon said that the process of the selection of a Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is still within the domain of consultations between the Leader of the Opposition and the President.
“…so I would wish to leave it there. In fact, I believe the Leader of the Opposition is on record as saying that he doesn’t understand all this speculation and so that is going on, but he believes that the President has said that he will work assiduously with the Leader of the Opposition to ensure that we get a Chairman of the Elections Commission that is acceptable to all Guyanese and that can perform that function.”
He reminded that Jagdeo is set to meet with Granger “on Monday June 12, 2017 at 18:00hrs at State House and thereafter the nation will know what would have come out of that consultation”.
This invitation for consultation was sent to Jagdeo, following statements he would have made in the media concerning Granger’s letter to him informing of the President’s rejection of the second list of nominees for the position of GECOM chairmanship.
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.
The nominees on the second list included Justice of Appeal B.S Roy (retd.), Justice William Ramlal (retd.), Ms Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Attorney-at-law Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-law Nadia Sagar and Gerald Gouveia.
The nominees on the first list were: Lawrence Latchmansingh, Rhyaan Shah, James Rose, Norman McLean, Ramesh Dookhoo and Christopher Ram.
After the first list was rejected earlier this year, Jagdeo had asked the President to explain what criteria the nominees would have to satisfy so that the next list would be accepted.
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 person should have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness and diligence in the discharge of his or her duty as Chairman.
It has been suggested that Granger’s rejection of both lists signals his intention to unanimously appoint someone to the position of GECOM Chairperson.
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.”
However, the President has committed to continue working with Jagdeo until an acceptable person is found to occupy the position.
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