President, Opposition Leader meeting: High-level negotiators to be appointed if Jagdeo’s third list fails

Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2017, 20:57 by Denis Chabrol

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Monday evening  agreed to submit a third list of nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and if that list fails to get President David Granger’s approval, a high-level team would iron out the difficulties.

“It was also agreed that a high-level team would be assembled representing the President and the Leader of the Opposition which will begin to work immediately on exploring modalities to bring a resolution to this matter in the event that the list is rejected,” a joint statement issued through the Ministry of the Presidency says.

The decisions were made at an estimated one hour of talks between Guyana’s top political leaders and their delegations from 6PM at State House.

The High Court is, meanwhile, set to continue its hearing on June 16, 2017 into an application by city businessman, Marcel Gaskin, for an interpretation of Guyana’s constitutional provision on the appointment of a GECOM Chairman.

Jagdeo later told Demerara Waves Online News that he would be consulting with stakeholders again, but he was unsure what form that would take. “I will definitely consult. I cannot say as yet.I don’t know what the format will be but consultations, yes,” he said.

The President and the Opposition Leader, according to the joint statement, agreed that a GECOM Chairman should be appointed swiftly. “The parties agreed that it would be in the best interest of the people of Guyana that the choice of a Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission is made without undue delay. The parties further agreed that the Leader of the Opposition will submit a new list of six names to the President,” the two sides say.

Monday’s meeting was held at the invitation of the President after he did not find favour with Jagdeo’s second list of nominees. Attending the meeting were Jagdeo and his team comprising of Mr. Anil Nandall M.P and Mr. Irfaan Ali M.P. The President’s team was made up of Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman.

They consultations were held to find a way forward on the selection and appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana.

Granger has insisted that all of the nominees must be acceptable to him and that his constitutional interpretation is that priority should be given to a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be a judge. He has since added his own criteria that the person should have integrity, be impartial and independent even to the extent of not being an activist  in any form (gender, racial, religious etc)” and “that person should not have any political affiliation or should not belong to any political party in any form, apparent or hidden.”

Those on the second rejected list are Retired Justice of Appeal B.S Roy,  Retired Justice William Ramlall;  Attorney-at-law and a former Magistrate, Ms. Oneidge Walrond-Allicock; Attorney-at-Law, Kashir Khan;  Attorney-at-law, Nadia Sagar and businessman, Gerald Gouveia.  The President has said that he has rejected the second list because he was not presented with a range of persons from which to choose one.

The first rejected list had been made up of 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.

GECOM has been without a Chairman since late February, 2017 when Veterinarian Dr. Steve Surujbally stepped down after having been at the helm for 15 years. He had officially retired in November, 2017 but had been asked to stay on until a successor had been identified, but that was not to be.