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Granger “respects” and will consider High Court ruling on GECOM Chairmanship

FLASH BACK: Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo meeting with President David Granger.

President David Granger will be considering a High Court ruling in determining who should be appointed the next Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from the list of six nominees submitted by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, government said Thursday.

“The President respects the ruling of the court in this matter and has no intention of stepping outside of the boundaries that are established there. He respects that ruling. I want to make that very clear,” Minister of State, Joseph Harmon told a news conference.

GECOM has been without a chairman since February, although the last Chairman, Veterinary Doctor, Steve Surujbally had officially resigned since last November ending his 15-year tenure.

Harmon said the Guyanese leader was keen in appointing a Chairman of the elections management body who is the “best possible” and “fit and proper” person.

Asked whether Granger would be considering the July 17, 2017 ruling by Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire in deciding who would be appointed the GECOM Chairman, Harmon said “well, yes; certainly.” That appears to be a back-down from Granger’s reaction on July 19 to the High Court ruling in which he had stated that “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.” In contrast to the Chief Justice’s decision that the President should offer reasons for his rejection in keeping with good governance best practice, the President had queried where the Constitution states that he should do so.

The Opposition Leader has already stated that he “it is my expectation that the President will select a Chairman from this list especially now that we have the ruling of the Chief Justice on this matter.” City businessman, Marcel Gaskin had sought a legal interpretation of the Constitutional provision on the appointment of a Chairman of the seven-member body.

Contrary to President Granger’s view that  Guyana’s Constitution provides for a GECOM Chairman to be preferably a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be a judge; Chief Justice George has ruled that that both the judicial and non-judicial categories are of equal weight. She has said that the person should have judge-like qualities in being fair in executing his or her duties.

The President had also added that nominees should not be an activist  in any form (gender, racial, religious etc)” and “that person should not have any political affiliation or should not belong to any political party in any form, apparent or hidden.”

Jagdeo’s latest batch of nominees include former GECOM Chairman, Retired Major General Joseph Singh; Attorneys-at-Law Teni Housty and Sanjeev Datadin, former Magistrate Krishnadat Persaud, Aviator and businesswoman, Annette Arjoon-Martins and Pastor Onesi La Fleur.

The previous two batches of nominees have already been rejected. Those on the second rejected list are Retired Justice of Appeal B.S Roy,  Retired Justice William Ramlall;  Attorney-at-law and a former Magistrate, Ms. Oneidge Walrond-Allicock; Attorney-at-Law, Kashir Khan;  Attorney-at-law, Nadia Sagar and businessman, Gerald Gouveia.  The President has said that he has rejected the second list because he was not presented with a range of persons from which to choose one.

The first rubbished list had been made up of Governance and Conflict Resolution Specialist,  Lawrence Lachmansingh;  Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram;  Retired Major General, Norman Mc Lean; Business Executive, Ramesh Dookhoo; Indian Rights Activist, Rhyaan Shah and History Professor, James Rose.

  • Emile_Mervin

    The court ruled that the constitutional clause governing the section of a Gecom Chairman is not limited exclusively to judges, but includes those who are not judges but are fit and proper.

    Granger actually wanted a judge for the job given that all the past Chairmen, except Sir Harold Bollers, were not judges but fit and proper.

    I keep wondering aloud whether the next elections will be dependent on who is the Chairman and not how voters cast their votes. Guyana: Caught between a rock and a hard place; the devil and the deep blue sea!

    • rs dasai

      The problem with a ‘Judge’ is that the Con Stitution does not define what type of Judge. I prefer the ‘beauty’ type.

      • Emile_Mervin

        Actually, it does. It says the candidate should be one of three categories:
        1. a judge – past or current
        2. one who is eligible to be a judge
        3. one who is fit and proper.

        The President simply preferred a judge-type as a candidate, but I guess he went about the approach the wrong way. And the Opposition Leader is as defiant as they come in resisting the President’s preference.

        • VictorAustin

          The President was 100% wrong and strong, for some reason or the other he think he can make Jag ee a fool. It had no reason reaching to this extent. Now Jag ee and Nand ee laffing the expert on the constitution. Emile you are trying to smooth out the edeges of your flaw reasoning with this bull of the president reference.

          • Emile_Mervin

            Dude, don’t display your ignorance with such pride. The fact that the President can reject any list submitted by the Opposition Leader infers the President has a right to express a preference. The Chief Justice herself made that observation in her ruling months ago.

            Neither you nor any supporter of Jagdeo and the PPP wants to touch on the PPPs decision to allow for that part of the constitutional clause that leaves the choice of Gecom Chairman with the President. WHY? Granger is merely abiding by the ‘UNACCEPTABLE’ clause approved by the PPP government.

        • rs dasai

          I agree with you, Raoof clarified it.

  • Col123

    Even if Hesus was on any of the list , he would not be considered meeting any of the President’s desire….

  • rs dasai

    It looks like The Prezzie ‘cannot (?)’ speak for himself as Mr. Harmon does most of the ‘messenger’ work. Why?

    • Col123

      There is absolutely no reason why the Presi shouldn’t have a boy…… a house slave comes with massa… that was the job Naggie wanted…

      • rs dasai

        Naggie cannot have that Job since he is answerable to The Harmonious.

  • Col123

    “Granger has certainly been “all over” the field ” MR???..The President got Jaggie sweating his pants off…much to the delight of everyone… the outcome is predictable either way… and really does not matter. Guyanese are accustomed to despicable leadership… and the dictatorship is not far from reality…

  • Emile_Mervin

    The constitutional clause says the Opposition Leader will produce and present the list. The clause also says ‘after consulting with organs represented in the National Assembly’. Funny thing is, only the PPP and the Coalition are represented in the National Assembly. From the list the Opposition Leader presents to the President will be picked the person to serve as Gecom Chairman.

    However, the list must not be unacceptable to the President, clearly inferring the President has a right to express a preference since he has the last say. The UNACCEPTABLE LIST component is what many folks are ignoring in understanding why the President has a right to express a preference. We really need a thorough constitutional overhauling.

  • rs dasai

    Not only Granger, but his advisors, especially the Duke and the AG.

  • rs dasai

    If the Prezzie can pick someone not on the list as per the CJ, what is the use of the Constitution?

    • Col123

      It comes down to which weighs more… a pound of feather or a pound of flesh made from one cut….