By GHK Lall
The first thing that I will say about the CCJ’s decision is that it is Solomonic. Profound, and makes me want to stand straight and remove hat in recognition of the kind of wisdom revealed that is unknown in this country. The critical may look upon this and see a non-decision. I see otherwise.
In one fell swoop, the CCJ reached down and first knotted together and then pushed the two competing political behemoths into a single, narrow cage, and with the invitation to sort this thing out one way or another at arm’s length and eyeball to eyeball. Instead of giving the baby to one group, there is now opportunity and mandate to share in dividing it and coming with less than half of nothing, or making tough decisions without appealing to the sympathies of strangers. No more of this handing over of a list by one and rejecting by the other. Put heads together and come up with six. Find six men or women. But that is only the first screen, the short list that has to be agreed upon jointly and beforehand.
I detect an open-ended liberty as to time relative to this judicial guidance. By this I mean that to arrive at a single name could be a lengthy parsing exercise of submitting and rejecting, and then starting over again and again. And that torturous dissection has to be repeated until six names acceptable to the president are delivered. In effect, this means both sides/people are hashing this out in a continuous process that could take months.
As a practical matter, it is likely that both parties will name leadership representatives, with plenipotentiary powers. Reminds me of the parallel when the PPP had Dr. Luncheon (I wish him the best) and others negotiating with Lance Carberry et al from the then PNC and the hiccups and stops and starts that surrounded that process. They will hem and haw, winnow and whittle, until they arrive at a final six. The president, through his people, gets to bite the selection apple a second time, since he then decides on the one who will be chair. Some of those six names would have to have some trace of government ownership, as part of the screening for six, and selection of six. It may not be the best analogy, but I am thinking of jury selection involving prosecutor and defense counsel, with a judge as referee in arriving at a final cohort of twelve. That has the limitation and sanity of peremptory challenges. That cannot apply for this chair selection. I have not heard of anything about a referee in this potential chair list. I do not think that such granularity would be becoming of the CCJ.
I say this even as I note that the lawyers from both sides have been called for a chat next Monday. I think that the learned justices of the CCJ have dabbled with this as far as they wish to take it: the ingredients have been delivered; it is up to Guyanese leaders to concoct a palatable meal out of those. Guyanese have to cook it (sure to be found questionable); Guyanese have to taste it (sure to be found sour); and Guyanese have to live with it (sure to be found bitter later).
For when that final fateful name is decided by His Excellency, the Guyanese voter still have an expired list with which to deal, and the usual elections exercises—thorny, controversial, and problematic in result—with which to cohabit. There could be greater comfort in some degree of fairness. Yet there still remain all the regular troubles that now customarily accompany winning and losing. When all is said and done, this country is still at the same place, with the usual racial and social migraines cum root canals to handle.
Mr. GHK Lall is a Guyanese author, columnist and former financial analyst on Wall Street.