Last Updated on Saturday, 18 March 2017, 22:05 by Denis Chabrol
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo Saturday night confirmed that President David Granger has written to him about the selection of a new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) ahead of his submission of a fresh set of names next week.
Jagdeo declined to discuss the contents of Granger’s letter to him until he submits the new list of six nominees from which the President is expected to pick one that he finds acceptable. “I plan to release the contents of the letter after I would have met with the members of the civil society who had submitted names in the past,” he told Demerara Waves Online News.
The Opposition Leader said he would be releasing copies of the leader to representatives of civil society with whom he plans to meet again and ask them to submit additional names in keeping with the President’s guidelines. “I would also, in keeping with some of the issues the President wrote in his letter, I’ll ask them to submit additional names of my consideration,” he said.
Jagdeo said the President has not given him a deadline by which the six names should be submitted. He declined to say whether he would be submitting the names of current, former or persons eligible to be appointed judges. “You’ll hear later from me on that,” Jagdeo said.
President Granger and Opposition Leader Jagdeo have been deadlocked since earlier this year when the Guyanese leader deemed the first list of six nominees unacceptable because none of them had included retired, current or judge-eligible persons. Granger, himself, had been nominated by the People’s National Congress Reform in the past for the post of GECOM Chairman.
Earlier this month, during a second round of recent talks, the Granger informed Jagdeo that a GECOM Chairman should be impartial, independent and have integrity. He was expected to expand on those qualities and other pre-requisites in a letter to Jagdeo.
Veterinarian Dr. Steve Surujbally on February 28, 2017 ended a 15-year stint at the helm of the seven-member commission of three nominees from the government and three from the opposition.
The Opposition’s first batch of rejected nominees had included 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.
Jagdeo has repeatedly warned that if the President opts to unilaterally name someone outside of the lists of nominees, the decision will be challenged in the High Court.