February 24, 2017

Meeting between Govt, Opposition on interpretation of Constitution unfruitful

The much anticipated meeting between Government and Opposition representatives to iron out the interpretation of the Constitution with regards to the appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) got underway on Wednesday and was proven to be unfruitful.

Attorney General, Basil Williams

Attorney General, Basil Williams

The Opposition appointed Attorneys – Priya Manickchand and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall – met with current Attorney General Basil Williams following a proposal made by President David Granger to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, for legal minds from the two sides to meet and discuss the appointment of a GECOM Chairman.
When contacted on Wednesday, Attorney General Williams told Guyana Times Internationalthat during the meeting, he heard submissions by Nandlall and asked for some time to review the submissions in order to arrive at a proper conclusion.
“I spoke with Mr Nandlall respectfully, he made his contention and he cited authorities; and I said I’ll take what you say safely by reading the authorities and then we’ll respond to his submissions,” Williams stated.
Meanwhile, in a statement to the media, Nandlall disclosed that during the meeting, the Opposition lawyers proffered their interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution, in writing, and supported their position with a number of case law authorities from Guyana, the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.
However, Nandall pointed out that the Attorney General was “unprepared” to put forward his or the Government’s interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution, despite several requests for him to do so.
“Instead, he indicated that he will need time to interpret our contentions and prepare his response. All of the interpretations offered by us (Wednesday) were fully and publicly ventilated in the media… I am disappointed by the lack of preparedness of the Attorney General, which resulted in nothing tangible emerging from the engagement,” the former AG asserted.
Nandlall went on to say in his statement that “Quite frankly, I was hoping that the Attorney General would have been ready with his position on the matter today (Wednesday); that may have resulted in this matter being concluded with dispatch and decisively. In the meanwhile, Guyana’s democracy continues to hang in the balance.”
Moreover, Nandlall stated that the Attorney General could not identify a date for a second engagement on the issue, which the Opposition considers a matter of great national importance.
“The meeting ended with the Attorney General being unable to identify another date available in his diary for us to meet again,” he noted.