Former Speaker of the National Assembly, Ralph Ramkarran believes that Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo should reconsider the proposal by President David Granger for parliamentary selection for Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Writings on the topic recently, Ramkarran noted that it is unfortunate that Jagdeo did not appear to have given much thought to the President’s proposal.
Ramkarran suggested that if the Government and Opposition can agree that members of the Elections Commission, including the chair, are appointed by the President upon recommendation by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly, it is a perfectly reasonable proposition which ensures consensus on the nominations.
He said it would remove the discretionary power currently vested in the President to reject the list of six submitted by the Leader of the Opposition and appoint his own choice, as happened recently, to the disappointment of most Guyanese.
At a recent press conference, President Granger suggested that the Carter-Price formula has exhausted its usefulness and that it creates gridlock rather than consensus in the selection process of GECOM commissioners. The Carter-Price formula was created by former United States of America President, Jimmy Carter and former Prime Minister of Belize, George Price.
The formula allows for the Opposition and Government to nominate three Commissioners each, with a Chairman appointed by the President, following consultations with the Opposition Leader.
The formula was a response to the contentious 1992 elections and was first applied in the General Elections of 1997.
However, during a recent meeting with the press, Granger expressed his support for the procedures that are in place for other constitutional commissions, rather than the current formula.
The President believes that the process used in selecting members of constitutional bodies such as the Police Service Commission and Public Service Commission, should be adopted for the appointment of election commissioners.
Jagdeo had swept aside the proposal to scrap the ‘Carter-Price formula.’ He instead suggested that the United Nations should be invited to manage the Local Government elections.
But Ramkarran believes that the Opposition leader should not be so quick to shut down the President’s proposal.
He suggested that Jagdeo could reconsider his rejection.
According to Ramkarran, President Granger’s suggestion is worthy of consideration. He explained that the relevant reforms to the Constitution, effected in the 2001-2002 period, make provisions for the National Assembly to recommend members of a commission for appointment by the President.
The reform also makes provisions for the appointment of some members of the Public Service and Police Service Commissions by the President on the recommendation of the National Assembly.
These provisions were given effect to by Standing Orders of the National Assembly for the establishment of an Appointments Committee which nominates the members of the commissions for consideration by the Parliament.
The Appointments Committee has a majority of Government members.
The organisations that it would consult to obtain nominations, and the nominations themselves made to the National Assembly, would therefore be skewed in favour of the Government.
The Government majority in the National Assembly would also favour the Government. It is clear that this suggestion by the President would be dead in the water.
However under a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly, it is a perfectly reasonable proposition.
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