Bar Association calls for swift appointment of GECOM Chairman

Last Updated on Friday, 9 June 2017, 9:23 by Denis Chabrol

The Guyana Bar Association hopes that next Monday’s meeting between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo will lead to the swift appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), and suggested that the Guyanese leader’s decision could be challenged.

“Although the issue of the interpretation of Article 161(2) is before the Chief Justice for her consideration, the Bar Council notes that the President has invited the Leader of the Opposition to a meeting on the issue and it hopes that this will lead to a speedy resolution of this matter of urgent national importance,” the Bar Association said in a statement.

City businessman, Marcel Gaskin has sought a legal interpretation from the High Court after President Granger said priority should be given to a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be a judge instead of merely fit and proper . He has also added his own criteria by which the persons should be selected- independence, integrity, not being an activist or even remotely connected to a political party. The next court date is June 16. Two lists of 12 persons have all been rejected by the President.

Rhe Bar Council of The Guyana Bar Association expressed concern that there has not yet been agreement on the appointment of the Chairman of the Elections Commission.

“It is of paramount importance that this constitutional office be urgently filled since the position has been vacant since November, 2016,” the Association said. Dr. Steve Surujbally officially left the post of GECOM Chairman in late February.

The Bar Association suggested that the President’s decision could also be challenged in court.

“It is the considered view of The Bar Council that the power created by Article 161(2) of the Constitution to decide on the selection of non-selection of a person for appointment is a public law power subject to the standards applicable to judicial review of such power,” the Bar Association said.

The Association reasoned that the decision made must be objectively reasonable in the sense that it must not be a decision that no reasonable person asked to make that decision would reach.