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President recommits to appointing “consensual” GECOM Chairman; to meet Jagdeo this week

President David Granger on Thursday assured that he was working with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to generate a list of six acceptable nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“I’d meet him again and again until a Chairman is appointed,” he said, noting that he met Jagdeo on July 4 and 16 and their emissaries met four times between July 8 and 17. At the same time, he recalled telling Jagdeo that any list that emerges without seriously considering government’s recommendations in the spirit of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) decision would be “spurious and that I would have great difficulty in accepting such a list”.

Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon said Granger and Jagdeo are due to meet before the end of this week to discuss the appointment of a GECOM Chairman “one-on-one and they will arrive at a situation”. Harmon hoped that this week’s talks would be the final meeting.

“Speaking to both of them—both the Leader of the Opposition and the President—I get the sense of this urgency to have this matter clarified in the interest of the people of this country,” he said. Asked whether government had a timeframe within which a gridlock would be declared and a decision has to be made, Harmon said, “No, I think we will find common ground. “I think that there is going to be a consensual list which is in keeping with the constitution and the injunction given to us by the Caribbean Court of Justice.”

After government trimmed its list of suggested names to just Attorney-at-Law Kesaundra Alves and Retired Justice Claudette La Bennette, Jagdeo also rejected those and submitted four others to Granger for him to pick two to add to the four already accepted by the Guyanese leader.

Granger said his administration was committed to both the CCJ’s decision and the speedy appointment of a GECOM Chairman as well as fair, free and credible elections “as soon as possible”. Noting that GECOM was without a quorum due to the absence of a Chairman, he promised that his government would continue to act in good faith to “ensure that a Chairman not unacceptable to the President is appointed so as to ensure democratic elections as early as possible”.

In an address to representatives of the private sector, trade unions and the religious community, the Guyanese leader recalled already telling Jagdeo that the President must have an active participatory role in crafting the list in keeping with the decision of the Caribbean Court of Justice. “The President is not a passive bystander to the process; he is an active participant in hammering out the list of persons not unacceptable to him,” he said.

Granger said the CCJ ascribed a “role” for the President in hammering out the list of six nominees which would then be formally presented by the Opposition Leader to the President who would then pick one.

The President said he had reasonably expected the government’s nominees would have been seriously considered by the Opposition Leader during the process to arrive at a consensus.