Opposition Leader releases names of nominees for new GECOM Chairman

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 December 2016, 16:31 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo (centre) flanked by PPPC parliamentarians Irfan Ali and Gail Teixeira as he announced the names of the nominees for the position of GECOM Chairman.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday released the names of the six nominees for new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

He said the names were submitted to President David Granger earlier Wednesday after extensive consultations with civil society organisations.

They are Governance and Conflict Resolution Consultant Lawrence Lachmansingh, Business Executive Ramesh Dookhoo;  former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, Retired Major General Norman Mc Lean; Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram; Businesswoman and former Broadcast Executive, Rhyaan Shaw and Professor James Rose.

Lachmansingh has in the past worked with the non-governmental Electoral Assistance Bureau and the United Nations system here and overseas.

Dookhoo has been head of the local and Caribbean private sector organisations. Mc Lean is also a former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission and  high-level human resource functionary at Omai Gold Mines Limited and Bosai Minerals. Shaw is a former Chief Executive Officer of the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) and East Indian rights activist, while Professor James Rose is a long-time member of the PPP. Ram is a well-known television talk-show host and a harsh critic across the political divide. He was recently hired by government to conduct several forensic audits at a number of state agencies.

However, the Opposition Leader said all of the nominees are fit to chair GECOM and he hopes that President Granger would soon pick one of them to head the elections management authority. “I think they all are strong people and courageous people and people who have demonstrated that they are prepared to serve the country’s interest, not partisan interest so that is my sense. I did not go into any great detail about their management styles or anything of that sort but their names came forward from civil society, reviewed these names, thought that they had some character traits that are necessary…,” he said.

Jagdeo said the nominees have all confirmed that they are available to replace  Dr. Steve Surujbally who retired with effect November 31, 2016

“A significant number came from the list proposed by civil society,” he said. The PPPC, he said, consulted with more than 30 civil society and religious organisations, private sector, labour movement, youths and women. “We believe that all these people have the requisite quality to be a good chairperson of GECOM,” Jagdeo said.

While there is no legal obligation for the Opposition Leader to hold consultations, he said the PPP decided to do so. “The process was not required by law or the constitution, yet we in the PPP thought that we needed to solicit opinions from a broad range of organisations reflecting the society given the importance of elections and the management of elections, we need to have free and fair elections and elections conducted above board.

The Opposition Leader declined to say whether he has another list of persons should the President find all of the names unacceptable. “I don’t want to deal with that at this point in time because it is our expectation that given that these names enjoy such broad support in civil society and there are people who have a demonstrated track record of acting independently and fearlessly that will the President will find it fit to choose one of them,” he said.

Dr. Surujbally has been at the helm of GECOM for the past 15 years, overseeing several general and local government elections.

The Chairman and six commissioners of GECOM are selected based on the Carter Centre formula that had been agreed to between Head of the Carter Centre- former United States President, Jimmy Carter- and then President Desmond Hoyte  as part of a package of reforms that had paved the way for Guyana’s first free and fair elections in almost 3o years held in 1992.