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Confirmation of Chancellor, Chief Justice hinged on Harmon recognising govt- Ali

Last Updated on Monday, 2 August 2021, 14:01 by Denis Chabrol

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

President Irfaan Ali on Monday said that the confirmation of the Chancellor and the Chief Justice depends on the Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon recognising his government as legitimate.

“I am sure Harmon definitively knows who also is the Leader of the Opposition and who is the President so the ball is in his court to do the right thing and I’m hoping – I’m a very positive person- I’m hoping that very soon he will stop his reckless statements about the government and do what is right in the interest of the people of Guyana,” the President said.

The Constitution states that the Chancellor and the Chief Justice are appointed after the President and the Opposition Leader reach agreement. In March of this year, Mr. Harmon had called on President Ali to confirm the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary and the acting Chief Justice.

Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon has refused to recognise the Ali-led administration saying that it had been maneuvered into office although the March 2, 2020 general elections were allegedly riddled with fraud.

Chancellor Yonette Cummings and Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire have been acting for more than two years now. Ms. Cummings was appointed to act as Chancellor to succeed Justice Carl Singh who retired in 2017 after acting in that position for 12 years.

The then A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) administration of President David Granger had hoped to get then Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to agree to hire Belize-based Guyanese Justice Kenneth Benjamin as the Chief Justice.

However, Mr. Jagdeo had rejected Mr. Benjamin and Ms. Cummings for the posts of Chancellor and Chief Justice respectively based on undisclosed findings of due diligence that he had said had been done at that time.

Then President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, Sir Denis Byron had in 2017 urged “the high officials of our community” to abide by the constitution appoint the highest judicial officials, as an important means of guaranteeing judicial independence to citizens.

The Opposition Leader, as is required by law, submitted to the President the names of his nominees to sit on the Local Government Commission. The Regional Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen for the opposition-controlled Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica), Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice) had been among the 10 who had taken their oaths of office before President Ali.