Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo is insisting that any changes to the composition structure of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will have to be a model that encompasses impartiality.
Speaking at this weekly press conference earlier today, Jagdeo posited that while he is willing to have discussions with President David Granger on a new formula for the composition of the elections body, he insists that it must be one that would ensure impartiality at GECOM.
“We are not reticent to discuss anything but we are going to be very cautious to ensure that a formula that we have now enshrined in our constitution…which emphasises impartiality and joint participation in selecting the Chairman, that that formula is not undermined in favour of one that will remove that consensus or impartiality” the Opposition Leader espoused.
At a press conference two weeks ago, President David Granger said that the ‘Carter Formula’ that currently guides the composition of GECOM has exhausted its usefulness.
However, referring to the President’s unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson as the Chair of GECOM, Jagdeo posited that nothing was wrong with the Carter Formula, he said that “we didn’t have a problem with this model for 25 years, the two parties, it is in his action and I pointed out also it’s not just the Commission that we have to worry about it is the conduct of political parties even when the elections are certified free and fair.”
Moreover, the Opposition Leader said he needed to get clarification from the President on his proposed model as there are several constitutional bodies and most of them do not require two-thirds support from the National Assembly to be put in place.
He also outlined that the ones that require two-thirds support could still be tied in deadlock, such as the Public Procurement Commission (PPC). He noted that it took the better part of 15 years for the body to become operational because the incumbent Administration when in Opposition refused to consent to the Commission being comprised of three persons from the Government side and two from the Opposition.
According to Jagdeo, the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) wanted three from the Opposition and two from the Government. He noted that consensus only came when the Government changed in 2015 and the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) was in Opposition and remained consistent with its position.
The ‘Charter Formula’, which was designed by former US President Jimmy Carter, states that the Commission is comprised of six commissioners – three from the Opposition and three from the Government’s side – and a Chairman appointed by the President in “meaningful consultations” with the Opposition Leader.
However, President Granger has faced heavy criticism when he unilaterally appointed Patterson last year after rejecting three lists of six nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader.