Granger to appoint his nominees for Chancellor, Chief Justice, despite Jagdeo’s rejection

Last Updated on Thursday, 8 February 2018, 13:59 by Denis Chabrol

Chief Justice of Belize, Guyanese Kenneth Benjamin. He is also a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda where he once served as Chief Magistrate.

President David Granger will be going ahead with the appointment of his nominees for the posts of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, although Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has constitutionally rejected them, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said Thursday.

Harmon said Guyana’s constitution provides for “meaningful consultation” between the President and the Opposition Leader to pave the way for the appointment of Justice Kenneth Benjamin as Chancellor and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards as Chief Justice.

“There is a constitutional position which we’ll look at and if, in fact, there is no agreement for them to be appointed in the substantive position, then,as I said, there is constitutional provision for them to be appointed otherwise,” Harmon said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News.

Harmon declined to say whether, using other constitutional provisions, they would be appointed to act or substantively.

Meanwhile, minutes later Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo said he was willing to continue engaging the President to appoint persons as “substantive post-holders”.

“Mr. Jagdeo’s rejection is constitutional and the president’s powers are also constitutional and there is a provision in the law which provides that, in event there cannot be agreement,… then there is a second level which now requires meaningful consultation so I believe that that is the next step where we will have to go to,” Harmon added.

Article 127 (2) of Guyana’s Constitution states if the office of Chancellor or Chief Justice is vacant…until a person has been appointed … those functions shall be performed by such other of  the judges as shall be appointed by the President after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.

It unclear whether acting Chancellor Cummings-Edwards and acting Chief Justice George-Wiltshire would be asked to step down.

Jagdeo refused to publicly state the reasons for rejecting Benjamin and Cummings-Edwards for the two top judicial posts. Currently, Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire is acting as Chief Justice. She has not applied for either of the two posts.