Amend Constitution to allow foreigners to be considered for GECOM Chairmanship -Opposition Leader suggests

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Amid the controversy surrounding the appointment of a Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is now suggesting to President David Granger that there be an amendment to the Constitution to allow for foreign nationals to be nominated to the post.

President David Granger (right) and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo at a previous engagement

Jagdeo said this was one of the propositions he made to the President when he met with him on Monday to discuss a way forward on the GECOM matter.

Jagdeo made this disclosure at a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) public meeting held at Robert’s Square, Enmore, East Coast Demerara on Wednesday.

The former Head of State said, “Why not let us jointly amend that part of the Constitution, where we can submit now; we can search around the world so my list now can show people from around the world; some of the best people from around the world, so that is one of my suggestions.”

While the President has not agreed with this suggestion, Jagdeo said he (Granger) suggested a counter proposal of establishing a search committee that could possibly comprise six respected individuals; three from each side. But Jagdeo argued that this would only enable the President to pick one of the nominees instead, which according to him, is a direct violation of the Constitution.

“I made it clear that there has to be three prevailing conditions under which we will reach an agreement if we are to move forward in exploring new options. One is whatever is agreed in the committee must satisfy both parties. Secondly, it must be constitutional and the third precondition is it must not violate the delicate balance that the Carter Centre Formula has put in place,” he asserted.

Jagdeo said he also reminded the President during their meeting that while he (the President) had identified several criteria for the selection of the GECOM Chairman, they were not part of the Constitution, but they are merely his interpretation. Jagdeo also highlighted that it might be highly unlikely to find someone who has a “deep knowledge in electoral matters, especially someone who is not political.”

“It is almost impossible to meet that condition,” he asserted, describing the President’s move to reject two previous lists (comprising six persons each) as “unreasonable”. The first list submitted by the Opposition Leader was rejected on the basis that it did not include Judges, retired Judges or someone eligible to be a judge.

The second list, however, included two retired Judges and three Attorneys-at-Law, but the President claimed that all of the nominees have to be acceptable to him and he had not been presented with a range from which to choose.

The Opposition has long argued that the Constitution is on its side and the interpretation of the constitutional provision on the appointment of a GECOM Chairman had been settled by the People’s National Congress (PNC) with the then party leader, Desmond Hoyte, SC, even submitting Granger’s name twice for the top GECOM position.

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