December 14, 2017

‘A charade’

…Jagdeo urges Granger to abide by High Court ruling and move ahead in appointing GECOM Chair

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has urged President David Granger to abide by the High Court ruling and proceed in naming a Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) without any further delays.

At a news briefing on Thursday, Jagdeo questioned the reason why the President wants to meet with him again next week to discuss the appointment of a Chairman of GECOM, and said that it is time the Guyanese leader abide by a recent High Court ruling on the matter.
Labeling the 10-month long process so far in selecting a GECOM Chairman a “charade”, Jagdeo questioned why the President would like to meet him again on the issue.
“If our president cannot find from 18 persons who are all professionals…most of them are more technically qualified than the president himself and most of his ministers; he cannot find a single person who is fit and proper then something is wrong, not with those people or the process, then something is wrong with him. Maybe, he is not fit and proper to make the selection,” Jagdeo told the media.
The Opposition Leader has maintained that his nominees are of good standing and have demonstrated independence and impartiality.
Jagdeo disclosed that would attend the meeting with Granger and urged that we “keep our fingers crossed and our hopes high” that the President would provide good news.
The President had said that he was hoping to meet with the Opposition Leader sometime next week to relate his decision regarding the third list of nominees for the post.
The Opposition Leader submitted the third list of nominees to the President on August 25, 2017, and now some five weeks later, the President is yet to make a pronouncement.
The six nominees are Major General (rtd) Joseph Singh; Attorney Teni Housty; Attorney Sanjeev Datadin; Conservationist and businesswoman, Annette Arjune-Martins; Pastor Onesi La Fleur and former Magistrate Krishnadatt Persaud.
When asked about the delay in the selection of a Chairman for GECOM, the President said he was awaiting the written ruling of the acting Chief Justice, Roxane George.
“The Honourable Chief Justice has published an opinion and I have been studying that opinion and looking at the decisions that I have to make. It was quite clear that among everything she has written, she has not interfered with the President’s right guaranteed by the Constitution to select a person fit and proper. I think that in that regard, I will continue to do what the Constitution guarantees me to do which is to select someone fit and proper,” Granger said.
According to the Chief Justice, President Granger should provide reasons for rejecting nominees presented by Opposition Leader Jagdeo for the position of the GECOM Chairman in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution, which refers to the need for communication and negotiation. However, the President is not obligated to provide reasons.
The case was called before the Chief Justice on June 27, 2017, with submissions from a representative of the State; the plaintiff, businessman Marcel Gaskin’s attorney; Glenn Hanoman and the Guyana Bar Association representative, Attorney Teni Housty.
Gaskin, a businessman and engineer, had moved to the High Court in March of this year to challenge the constitutionality of President Granger’s reasoning behind his rejection of Jagdeo’s list of six nominees.
“Now that I have it (written ruling) in hand and I have read it much more carefully… I look forward to have a meeting with Jagdeo. I have not set a timeline because I do not know about Jagdeo’s availability. I hope (to have the meeting) next week if he is available,” Granger said.
Guyana is expected to have Local Government Elections next year and the Opposition has accused the President of deliberately frustrating the selection process so that he could appoint someone in his favour.