President David Granger on Wednesday appeared to have shunned a High Court interpretation of the Constitution on the appointment of a chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
“The Chief Justice gave an interpretation based on her perception of the Law and I will continue to act in accordance with my perception of the Constitution; that is to say I will not appoint somebody who I do not consider fit and proper,” he told reporters.
Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire, in her ruling on Monday, said the President is not required to give reasons for rejecting nominees by the Opposition Leader but in the spirit of good governance and democracy he should do so. She added that would assist the Opposition Leader in determining what are the requirements for selecting suitable candidates.
However, President Granger indicated that he would not be giving any reason. “If you can show me the Article of the Constitution which requires me to give reason, I will comply with the Constitution but I will not do what the Constitution does not require me to do,” he said.
On the thorny issue of whether preference should be given to a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be a judge, the President contradicted the Chief Justice’s ruling in which she stated that here is no preference and both the judicial and non-judicial category of “any other fit and proper person” are of equal weight.
“I do not believe that anything the Honourable Chief Justice said has diminished my regard for the word and spirit of the Constitution,” he said.
Granger reiterated that for someone to be eligible for appointment as GECOM Chairman that person must be independent, impartial and possesses integrity.
Twelve nominees have so far been submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo but the two lists of six persons have been rejected by the President.
Jagdeo has since shortlisted 10 other names from which he would select six and submit a third list.
The Chief Justice has said the word “any” broadens the categories of persons and that only one list can be submitted and subsequently amended.