UPDATE: Opposition Leader writes President on GECOM list …seeks urgent meeting

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Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has formally written to President David Granger seeking clarity on what he (the president) interprets the qualifications are of the persons to whom Article 161(2) of the Constitution refers, regarding the appointment of a chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Jagdeo in his letter stated that he is of the considered view that “an urgent meeting will immeasurably assist in reconciling any differences of opinion which may exist on this issue”.

In response to the President’s request for a second list of nominees to be submitted for consideration, in a press statement issued earlier today, Jagdeo stated that he believes Granger is laying the foundation for the unilateral appointment of a Chairman of GECOM of his own choosing.

Jagdeo noted that such appointment will not only be unconstitutional but will compromise the integrity of the electoral machinery tasked with conducting free, fair and transparent elections in Guyana.

“President Granger is the first President who has ever rejected a list submitted by a Leader of the Opposition. This is not without significance. We think that this is the beginning of an elaborate plan to rig the next elections. We feel that the President is laying the foundation for the unilateral appointment of a Chairman of GECOM of his own choosing”, the statement noted.

On Monday Granger wrote Jagdeo, indicating to him that the nominees he (Jagdeo) submitted for consideration for the post of Chairman of GECOM were “unacceptable” and asked that a second list be submitted for his consideration.

The list of nominees submitted by Jagdeo after extensive consultations with various stakeholders include: Governance and Conflict Resolution Specialist, Lawrence Lachmansingh; Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram; businesswoman and former broadcast executive, Rhyaan Shah; Retired Major General, Norman Mc Lean; Business Executive, Ramesh Dookhoo and History Professor, James Rose.

The following letter was dispatched to President David Granger by the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Bharrat Jagdeo, M.P., today, Tuesday, January 10, 2017.

Dear Mr. President,

Your letter dated 2017-01-05 refers.

In that letter, Your Excellency has expressed the view that the six (6) persons whose names I submitted to fill the position of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission “do not seem to conform to the requirements of … Article 161(2) …” of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.

I have also noted certain comments attributed to Your Excellency by the media made at a function held at State House on the 8th January, 2017, which tend to suggest that you apprehend Article 161(2) to require only persons who are Judges, qualified to be Judges, or former Judges of, either a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matter or, a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court. If those media reports accurately conveyed your views, then I am obliged to inform Your Excellency that my interpretation of Article 161(2) is different, in so far as, it also provides for, in addition to the category of persons to whom you  have referred, “or any other fit and proper person”.

In the circumstances, I hereby request that Your Excellency clarify what you interpret the qualifications are of the persons to whom Article 161(2) of the Constitution refers. I am of the considered view that an urgent meeting will immeasurably assist in reconciling any differences of opinion which may exist on this issue.

Yours faithfully,

Bharrat Jagdeo, MP

Leader of the Opposition

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