The Association of Concerned Guyanese – USA (ACG-USA) and the Patriotic Coalition for the Restoration of Democracy (PCRD) are calling upon President David Granger to appoint a Chairperson for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) from the third list of nominees proposed by the Opposition Leader, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, several weeks ago.
“Like other patriotic organisations, the ACG-USA and the PCRD find that the latest list from the Hon. Bharrat Jagdeo has several individuals who not only meet the Constitutional requirements but also meet the ‘fit and proper’ conditions,” the Diaspora groups said in a press release issued on Thursday.
With Local Government Elections due in 2018 and General Elections in 2020, the groups said, “Time is of the essence,” while highlighting that GECOM needs a leader to begin to ensure that all requisite preparations are in place for a free and fair elections in Guyana.
Moreover, the Associations call upon the “ABC” Countries to join with them to ensure that a Chairperson is appointed from the recent list of nominees submitted to the President, without any further delays.
“The ABC Countries are keen on promoting democracy around the world. We see no reason why that same interest is not applicable to Guyana. We hope that we can count on them for their full support to ensure that GECOM’s work is no longer hampered by the President’s inaction,” the groups said.
The Opposition Leader had submitted his first list of six nominees for the GECOM Chairperson position during the latter part of 2016. However, President Granger had maintained that the list was “unacceptable.”
The second list submitted by Jagdeo was also met with rejection, with Granger saying that the nominees did not satisfy the criteria.
The President had maintained that Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana prescribes for the Chairperson of the Elections Commission to be “a person who holds or who has held office as a judge of a court…or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge, or any other fit and proper person…”
As such, businessman Marcel Gaskin had moved to the Court to seek clarity on the Constitutional requirements for the appointment of a GECOM Chairperson.
Recently, acting Chief Justice Roxanne George ruled against President Granger’s interpretation of Guyana’s Constitution for the appointment of a GECOM chairperson, saying that there was no preference for judicial persons.
Nevertheless, during the latter part of last month, Jagdeo submitted his third list to the President Granger, who has since acknowledged receipt and told the media that he is in the process of examining the candidates.
In a press statement issued today (Thursday), Jagdeo confirmed that the political Opposition is still awaiting word on the latest submissions, after the first two were rejected by Granger. “Right now we are still waiting on word from the President…what we do in the future will depend on the answer we get from him,” he said.
The candidates on the third list include, Major General (Rtd) Joseph Singh, Teni Housty, Sanjeev Datadin, Ms Annette Arjoon-Martins, Onesi La Fleur and Krishnadatt Persaud.
Jagdeo has since made clear that the nominees meet the Constitutional requirements. “I believe that there are people (on the list) with the requisite qualifications…I am sure he (President Granger) could find one of the six who could be suitable,” he said.
GECOM has been without a chairman since February 2017, when Dr. Steve Surujbally, a veterinarian, retired.