Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo has told President David Granger that he would be submitting another list of six names from which he is expected to pick one as the next Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) said in a statement.
“In the interest of moving the process forward, today, the Leader of the Opposition wrote to the President requesting some additional clarifications and informed him that six (6) names will be submitted to him shortly in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution,” the PPP said in a statement.
That would be the second set of six names, after the President deemed the first list”unacceptable” on the grounds that none of the nominees fitted the constitutional preference for a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be appointed a judge.
The PPP has, however, maintained that the law could not be interpreted as having been written separately and so Jagdeo’s first list of nominees had fulfilled the requirement of “fit and proper person.”
The Opposition Leader’s move to submit a second batch of names came one day after the PPP’s Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall declared that further engagements about the constitutional interpretation with Attorney General, Basil Williams would be “futile”.
While the constitution is silent about the submission of more lists, government has already stated that it would be willing to entertain more nominees until the right person is found to replace Dr. Steve Surujbally whose last day on the job was Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
The PPP said while it does not agree with Williams’ interpretation, it recognise that he has finally conceded that Article 161 (2) of the Constitution qualifies two categories of persons for the position of GECOM Chairman, namely: Judges, former Judges and person qualify to hold the position of Judges AND, or any other fit and proper persons.
The party used the opportunity to insist that Guyana’s Constitution does not accord any preference whatsoever to one of these categories of persons over the other as Williams contends. “Neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution confers such a bias. We are of the firm view that persons from either of these categories are equally qualified for the position of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Our position is consistent with the historical evolution of this particular Article of the Constitution, as well as, the qualities and qualifications of the persons who have held this position since this Article came into force,” the PPP added.
Those rejected by the President 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.
Except for late Senior Counsel, Doodnauth Singh, none of the other GECOM Chairmen dating back to 1992, none of the others–Ambassador Rudy Collins, gold miner Edward Hopkinson, Retired Major General Joseph Singh and Surujbally– were legally trained.