Following a rejection by President David Granger of the six names submitted by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, the Opposition Leader wrote Tuesday to the President asking that he clarifies his interpretation of the qualifications necessary for GECOM’s chair.
“I am of the considered view that an urgent meeting will immeasurably assist in reconciling any differences of opinion which may exist on this issue,” the Opposition Leader wrote in the letter to the President.
Jagdeo did not give into the President’s request for another list of six names not unacceptable to the Guyanese leader to be submitted. At the same time, the law does not provide for the President to ask for more than one list.
However, presidential spokesman, Mark Archer told Demerara Waves Online News that it was to early to say whether President Granger would accede to the Opposition Leader’s request for a meeting because the Guyanese leader received the letter at the end of the Change of Command Parade at the Officers’ Mess of the Guyana Defence Force.
“Anything you are asking will be premature at this time,” Archer said at about 5:35 PM Tuesday. He added that Granger would need time to study the contents of the letter before possibly arriving at a decision on Wednesday.
After a few days of consultations with local organisations following the announced resignation of GECOM chair, Dr Steve Surujbally, the political opposition consulted with local organisations before submitting the list of nominees to the President, who must meaningfully consult the Opposition Leader before the appointment is made.
Jagdeo’s initial list to the President included Governance and Conflict Resolution Specialist, Lawrence Lachmansingh; Businesswoman, Rhyaan Shah; History Professor, James Rose; Retired Major General Norman Mc Lean; Business Executive, Ramesh Dookhoo and Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram.
The President then wrote to the Opposition Leader indicating the nominees does not conform to the requirement of Article 161 (2) of Guyana constitution.
Similar statements were made by the President at an annual State House media brunch on Sunday last. Mr Granger’s interpretation of the legislation is that the nominee must be or be able to sit as a judge in Guyana.
“Four times in one article it mentions that word- “judge”- so the only thing about the list is that it comprises six names,” Granger told the media brunch Sunday last, adding that if the lists submitted by the Opposition Leader were not up to par, he could go ahead and appoint an eligible person.
The Opposition PPP was later Sunday reported as saying the President seems poised to unilaterally nominate and appoint the chairman of the elections observing body.
“If those media reports accurately conveyed your views,” Jagdeo’s letter continued, “then I am obliged to inform Your Excellency that my interpretation of Article 161(2) is different, in so far as, it also provides for, in addition to the category of persons to whom you have referred, “or any other fit and proper person”.
The PPP has already threatened to go to the Constitutional Court if the President unilaterally appoints a Chairman of GECOM without regard to the list submitted by the Opposition Leader.