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President Granger sticks with Justice Benjamin for Chancellor of the Judiciary

Last Updated on Wednesday, 6 June 2018, 11:15 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 on Wednesday refused to back down from his preference for overseas-based Justice Kenneth Benjamin to be appointed Chancellor of the Judiciary, in the face of intensified calls for the acting Chancellor and Chief Justice to be confirmed.

“That is well-known, that is well-known. I took my time in making that decision and I am not prepared to throw it out of the window,” Granger said in response to a questions on why he does not want to confirm acting Chancellor, Yonette Cummings-Edwards and acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire.

His position came one week after the Guyana Bar Association (GBA), in its most forceful move yet on the issue, last week passed a motion for the acting Chancellor and Chief Justice to be confirmed in those positions.

The President said when he next meets with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo that matter is expected to come up again.

Jagdeo, whose is constitutionally required to give the green-light for the two top judicial appointments, has already refused to approve President Granger’s choice of Benjamin as Chancellor.  Jagdeo has given no official reason for vetoing Benjamin’s appointment, but concerns have been raised in some circles about the fact that Justice Benjamin, who is Belize’s Chief Justice, had been criticised by the Bar Association for a backlog in giving written decisions.

Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards (right) and Acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire (left)

If Justice Benjamin were take over as Chancellor, it would result in Justice Cummings-Edwards being shifted down to Chief Justice. Justice George-Wiltshire has not applied for any position.

Outgoing President of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Denis Byron and President-elect of that regional court, Justice Adrian Saunders have expressed concerns separately that for more than 20 years  Guyana’s two top judicial posts have been filled with acting appointees.