Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo Wednesday night said he would be sending an envoy to meet with Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams to iron out disagreements over the constitutional requirements for appointing a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Jagdeo was responding publicly to President David Granger’s formal request for the Opposition Leader to send someone of his choice to meet with the Attorney General to clarify the interpretation of Article 16 (2) of Guyana’s Constitution that spells out the requirements for nominees.
“Nevertheless, in the best interest of the nation, the Leader of the Opposition will accede to the President’s request, since we are committed to protecting the democratic process, which the Guyanese people so valiantly and tirelessly struggled to establish,” Jagdeo said in a statement.
Expressing disappointment that the President did not accede to his request for a meeting, Jagdeo hoped that the talks between his representative and Williams would be fruitful. “It is our hope that this engagement will provide the requisite clarity and will move the process closer to an early resolution,” the Opposition Leader said.
“We are disappointed that the clarifications that we requested have not been furnished. We are further disappointed that the President is unprepared to meet with the Leader of the Opposition on a matter of such crucial national importance. We had hoped that such a meeting would have exposed the President to a view that is different from that of the Attorney General, whom we presume, is advising the President on this matter,” Jagdeo added.
For his part, the President said he was confident that such a meeting would provide “both of us with a common interpretation of the Constitution. “This will enable me to avoid further delay and discharge my obligation,” Granger added.
The President has deemed Jagdeo’s list of six nominees “unacceptable” because none of them is a judge, retired judge or eligible to be appointed a judge.
The nominees are Governance and Conflict Resolution Specialist, Lawrence Lachmansingh; Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram; Retired Major General, Joseph Singh; Business Executive, Ramesh Dookhoo; businesswoman and East Indian Rights activist, Rhyaan Shah; History Professor, James Rose.
Opposition Leader Jagdeo has said that if the President goes ahead and appoints a GECOM Chairman unilaterally, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would mount a legal challenge in the High Court.
Attorney General Williams is already on record as saying that all six nominees must be acceptable to the President from among whom the President would pick one in his own deliberate judgment.
Alliance For Change (AFC) Leader, Khemraj Ramjattan has said the issue could not be challenged in court because there are no rules or standards that dictates how the President should make a political decision.