Last Updated on Thursday, 13 July 2023, 13:11 by Denis Chabrol
President Irfaan Ali will Thursday go ahead with the swearing in of three members of the Public Service Commission (PSC), despite Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton’s objections that two of them are politically aligned.
Attorney General Anil Nandlall said the formal exchange of letters between the President and the Opposition Leader reached the threshold of the constitutionally required meaningful consultations. He said that provision of Guyana’s Constitution does not require agreement between Dr Ali and Mr Norton. “Meaningful consultation allows for disagreement… The court again examined the term ‘meaningful consultation’ and upheld those appointments despite objections by the Leader of the Opposition,” Mr Nandlall told Demerara Waves Online News.
Those scheduled to be sworn in on Thursday are Maurice Rudranauth Gajadhar, retired educator Melcita Bovell and former Chairman of the Teaching Service Commission, Leila Ramson.
Only the State media have been invited to cover the swearing in at 2:30 PM.
President Ali on Wednesday said the swearing in of the PSC would clear the way for the activation of the Judicial Service Commission and the Police Service Commission. Those commissions are responsible for hiring, firing and taking disciplinary action against such officers that they are responsible for.
In the exchange of correspondence released by Mr Norton, he indicated that Mrs Bovell and Mrs Ramson are politically tainted and so could not be considered independent.
“They have a history of involvement in partisan politics or close links to a political party and/or political party senior operatives Consequently, I cannot support them being part of an independent Public Service Commission,” he told the President on June 23, 2023. In a letter dated July 5, 2023 to Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira , Mr Norton’s representative Attorney at Law Roysdale Forde sought to justify his objections on the grounds that “it is an indisputable fact” that Mrs Ramson is the wife of a former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs in a People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) administration and mother of the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Charles Ramson in the current PPPC administration and that Ms Bovell “is known to be a close associate of a senior political party operative which brings into question her ability to be independent.”
But Ms Teixeira said Ms Ramson served as a member of the Teaching Service Commission for 12 straight years since 1994 and 10 years as chairman of that body “all without legal challenge.” She added that in respect of Ms Bovell, ” although an allegation of political association was made in Mr Norton’s letter, no details were provided that would permit an interrogation or a considered response.” She stressed that “in the President’s opinion they are qualified to serve” on the PSC.
Mr Forde on June 28, 2023 said the short time that was being proposed for meaningful consultation was too short to allow each candidate to be investigated, makes the consultative process meaningless. Ms Teixeira responded saying that the President maintains that the time was sufficient, “having regard to the public stature, qualifications and experience of these persons as are contained in their curriculum vitae.”
The Opposition Leader, however, did not register any objection to Mr Gajadhar. “The above apart, Maurice Rudranauth Gajadhar’s curriculum vitae and the fact that he is not a known political partisan recommend him as one who can be part of an independent Public Service Commission,” Mr Norton also said.