Forced out of office
(Reprinted from today’s Guyana Times)
Speaking for the first time since the matter became public last week, President David Granger has apologised for the initial short notice of 36 hours given to retired Justice Cecil Kennard to vacate office as Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).
When asked by Guyana Times about the rationale behind the short notice, the Head of State told reporters on Wednesday that he regretted “very much the short notice, he does deserve a longer notice…I apologise for the short notice given to Justice Kennard, it’s a matter that was under consideration in the last quarter last year and I regret the notice was so short.”
This newspaper was told that Justice Kennard was initially informed about his December 31 termination 36 hours prior. However, that time was later extended to the end of February.
Meanwhile, the President further explained that the decision to sack Justice Kennard was not based on his performance, but was a result of a general review being conducted on the length of service and age of persons holding offices at State entities.
“There is no negative report; in fact, a decision was taken to review all the boards, including Central Housing and Planning Authority… So it is not a criticism of Justice Kennard, I worked with him. He came before the Disciplined Forces Commission and he has got a lot of bright ideas. But at this time, we look forward to filling all of the constitutional appointments.”
The President added, “We also have the Public Service Appellate Tribunal; well he is Police Complaints Authority, we want to fill the Ombudsman position so it is the result of a general review of all the agencies, boards and commissions so there will be further information on those, but nobody is being purged.”
He went on to say that there would be a general order explaining Government’s policy on age and retirement for those agencies, boards and commissions. According to the Head of State, his Administration is trying to build a pool of expertise among the younger generation. “We are simply trying to give other persons the opportunity to serve,” he pointed out.
Meanwhile, asked by this newspaper whether former Mayor Hamilton Green, who currently heads the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CHPA) and is around the same age as Justice Kennard, would meet the same fate, President Granger opted to not answer directly, but reiterated that all the State entities were being reviewed and decisions were expected to be made during this month.
JUSTICE KENNARDS’S TAKE
During an exclusive interview with Guyana Times on Tuesday, Justice Kennard said the manner in which Government is coercing him to retire as Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority was disturbing and upsetting especially, since he has devoted over 50 years of service to the country.
Even more shocking, Justice Kennard pointed out, is that Government is yet to formally indicate to him its reasons for wanting him to retire. Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan had confirmed to reporters last Thursday that the President had asked the PCA Head to retire because of his age.
The former Chancellor of the Judiciary believes that age is not a practical reason for asking someone to retire as age does not render someone incompetent or incapable of executing his/her duties.
Moreover, Justice Kennard was said he was “shocked and upset” after being informed by his secretary while on vacation that a letter of his termination was sent to his office. He also contended that the timeframe in which Government gave him to retire was unfair, especially for a senior officer of his capacity.
Nevertheless, Justice Kennard indicated that he would not be challenging Government’s decision, but was merely requesting that his retirement date be pushed to the end of March so he could complete his work.