Jagdeo mum on no-confidence motion; WPA insists on “non-partisan”nominees for GECOM Chairman

Last Updated on Monday, 19 June 2017, 18:26 by Denis Chabrol

The headquarters of the Guyana Elections Commission.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo was Monday mum on whether his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) would table a no-confidence motion against government if President David Granger names an Elections Commission unilaterally.

Jagdeo is on record as threatening legal action, street protests and other consequences for which the President will have to bear full responsibility.

Asked whether those actions will include a no-confidence motion and if his PPP could secure enough support for such a motion, Jagdeo side-stepped the questions. “I would chose not to outline all the things, the so-called consequences,”he said.

Told that he was ruling in legal action and protests and  asked why he was not either ruling out or in a no-confidence motion, he said “I am very explicit that I have spoken about two of the consequences…so it presupposes a larger menu of consequences but I will not define those.

The PPP, with its 32 seats, needs support from at least one government parliamentarian to pass a no-confidence motion.

In order to avert a no-confidence motion against his minority government that would have force the President and Cabinet to resign and call elections in 90 days, then President Donald Ramotar dissolved Parliament and named May 11, 2015 as election day.

Meanwhile, the WPA  accused the Opposition Leader of attempting to force the President of Guyana into appointing a GECOM Chairman by submitting lists with limited ranges from which Granger can choose one to be the next Chairman of the national elections management authority.

“The PPP is playing politics is playing politics with everything it does and our view in the WPA is that the PPP is putting forward these lists in a very provocative way because they want to push the president to unilaterally appoint- they keep hammering at that ‘we are going to oppose’ – so what they are doing is that they are giving him lists he would reject with the hope that he would appoint a GECOM Chairman on his own and then they would say óh! you see what we were saying all along’ and so in that regard we are in solidarity with the president in terms of not falling for the PPP’s trap,” said WPA Executive Member, David Hinds.

Hinds said the WPA’s yardstick for a GECOM Chairman is that he or she “must not be an openly partisan person.” He declined to discuss the President’s preference for a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be a judge, plus the non-constitutional requirements of the nominees having to be independent and impartial.

He said on each of those lists there were persons aligned to the PPP and “we feel that that is a non-starter”.” They included Professor James Rose, Rhyaan Shah, Gerry Gouveia, Ramesh Dookhoo, and Retired Justices B.S. Roy and William Ramlall.

The WPA Executive Member said four or five of the nominees should be acceptable to the President, when asked whether all six names should find favour with the Guyanese leader. “The President must have scope when he is making a choice. If you give him a list and only two people are ‘non-partisan’ you don’t give him much to work with so I would say at a bare minimum four of the people on the list should be openly non-partisan,”he said.

However, Jagdeo insisted that the 12 names- six names on each list- are all persons who could have done a fair job at GECOM. “Each of those persons met the criteria and were fit and proper and could have made an impartial Chairman of GECOM.”