The Opposition has written Government asking for more clarity ahead of a third engagement today on the selection of a new chair for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The Opposition made it clear yesterday that the answers will determine whether it abandons the current engagements and returns to President David Granger and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo meeting, in keeping with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.
Teams from Government and the Opposition have met twice this week in an effort to fast-track and reach an early consensus on names of nominees.
According to the laws, the Opposition Leader is mandated to submit a list to the President and one name is to be chosen.
The situation has arisen after a recent Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling that a 2017 unilateral decision by President Granger to appoint Justice (ret’d) James Patterson was flawed.
Patterson resigned recently leaving the post vacant.
President Granger has said he wants a new Chairman in place so he can be advised accordingly to announce a date for elections.
The elections are due early after a December 21, 2018 shock no-confidence vote that was deemed carried by the courts.
As a result, there is supposed to be early elections, with GECOM taking centre stage now.
The Government and Opposition have agreed that they will each send a team to hammer out the names of nominees for GECOM chair before a final list is submitted to the President.
On Tuesday, Government and the Opposition sides met for the second consecutive day to discuss the nominations. The names of 11 persons submitted by the Opposition were discussed.
Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon, who is part of the government team, said after that second meeting that from, “the eleven names, four were short listed. Two are still under active consideration, and five have been rejected with reasons given”.
Another “hammering out meeting” was scheduled to be held today at Castellani House.
However, yesterday, it appeared that the Opposition is not happy with how things are proceeding.
The Opposition sent a letter to Harmon yesterday, which said that there are a number of issues that are unclear and which it now seeks clarification.
“At the meeting, we were informed that four (4) of the names on the list of 11 nominees, “appropriately adjusted from the original 18 names of 2017”, submitted by the Leader of the Opposition to the President on July 5th, 2019, for consideration for the appointment of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), were given the following labels: “no objection”, “tending towards acceptability” and “short listed”. You would recall that our specific enquiry of whether these four names are “not unacceptable” to the President was answered in the negative.”
The letter to Harmon, from Gail Teixeira, says it wants explanations on the meaning and purport of the terms “no objection”, “tending towards acceptability” and “short listed”.
“We further and specifically enquire, hereof, whether these names are “not unacceptable” to the President.”
The Opposition said it is also now enquiring of the meaning and purport of these “terminologies; before whom are these names pending, under whose consideration are they active, the President or his representatives and are these names “not unacceptable” to the President?”
“For the avoidance of doubt, we reiterate our commitment and availability to meet at any time, in order to advance and expeditiously conclude this process. We express our disappointment that the President’s Representatives were unable to meet today, Wednesday, the 10th July 2019, to continue the engagement.”
According to the Opposition, they had agreed to the engagement to effectuate the “good faith” admonitions enunciated by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), which must “preponderate” engagements between the President and the Leader of the Opposition.
“We, therefore, expect that the President’s Representatives will be duly authorized to make commitments at these engagements in their capacity as conduits of the President. Unfortunately, these engagements, thus far, have failed these expectations, hence, our enquiries above.”
The Opposition said it will present the answers from the Government to the CCJ.
“We are obliged to inform you that this communication and any response received hereto, will be disclosed to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) before the 12th July, 2019, so we shall appreciate a response by tomorrow 11th July, 2019, at 12 noon, and may determine whether this engagement will continue or whether, we will revert to the Leader of the Opposition and the President engaging, personally, as mandated by Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.”
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