Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has rejected President David Granger’s nominees—Retired Justice Claudette La Bennett and Attorney-at-Law Kesaundra Alves—for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), according to a joint statement by the political leaders’ representatives.
Instead, Jagdeo has submitted four additional names in the hope that two of them would find favour with Granger and are added to the list of four already deemed acceptable by the Guyanese leader.
“The two names previously suggested by the President did not find favor with the Leader of the Opposition. The four names will now be submitted to the President for consideration and the process of hammering-out will continue tomorrow, Thursday 2019.07.18,” the representatives said.
Guyana’s constitution requires the Opposition Leader to submit six names that are “not unacceptable” to the President who would then pick one for appointment as chairman of that seven-member commission that is split three-three among representatives of the government and opposition.
The President is not constitutionally responsible for suggesting names to the Opposition Leader, but Jagdeo had told Granger that he would not be opposed to informal suggestions during their engagement as envisaged by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ). That regional appeal court has ruled that Granger’s unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as GECOM Chairman in 2017 was flawed and unconstitutional.
Discussions between government and opposition representatives continued on Wednesday afternoon, to discuss the way forward in deciding on a possible Chairman for GECOM.
The meeting, which was held at the Ministry of the Presidency, included Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon for the government’s side with Members of Parliament, Irfaan Ali and Anil Nandlall representing the opposition.
These persons comprise the new working group that will continue the process. A decision was taken following the meeting on Tuesday, to establish this group.
Wednesday’s meeting follows an hour-long engagement between Granger and Jagdeo on Tuesday, where four names “were found not unacceptable to the president”.
Harmon was quoted by government’s Department of Public Information as saying that “we agreed that this list of names submitted will now be considered by His Excellency the President and any further directions on the matter will be given by the President.”