President likely to soon name new GECOM Chairman

Last Updated on Monday, 27 February 2017, 21:22 by Denis Chabrol

President David Granger may soon name a new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Major developments have emerged in less than 24 hours that the seven-member elections management body could in the near future have a new Chairman.

Outgoing Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally will hold a farewell news conference Tuesday morning. Although he had resigned with effect November 30, 2016, sources said Granger had asked him to stay on until a new Chairman could have been found.

Granger-initiated talks between the People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) Anil Nandlall and Attorney General Basil Williams on the constitutional interpretation of who is eligible to be appointed a GECOM Chairman appeared to have collapsed. “The Attorney General has abysmally failed to address the quintessential issue and the real crux of the matter: who qualify as/or what are the attributes of, “any other fit and proper person”, “ Nandlall, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, said in a statement following a meeting with Williams.

The PPP has already stated it would move to the Court if the President appoints someone else unilaterally outside the list that Jagdeo had submitted to Granger. Jagdeo maintains that the constitution provides for any other person deemed fit and proper-it does not mean the person has to be a legal luminary.

None of them is a judge, former judge or eligible to be appointed a judge and  so the President has deemed the list of six names unacceptable.

They are 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; Businesswoman and Indian Rights activist, Rhyaan Shah and History Professor James Rose.

Nandlall said the Attorney General, in a response to his interpretation, disputes that a section of the law shall not be divorced from the rest of the Act. “The gravamen of his presentation is that he disputes that the ejusdem generis rule of construction of statute applies to Guyana.  In our view, this does not assist in resolving the matters of controversy,” said Nandlall, who was accompanied to the meeting with Williams, by Attorney-at-Law, Priya Manickchand.

Nandlall, a former Attorney General cautioned that if he and Manickchand were to submit a response to Williams, a new controversy would erupt. “i.e. whether that cannon of statutory construction does or does not apply in Guyana. This simply distracts from the issue at hand,” said Nandlall.