GECOM Chair: Chief Justice rules against President Granger’s interpretation of Constitution

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger

The High Court, on Monday, ruled against the Government’s interpretation of Guyana’s Constitution with regards to the appointment of a Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman.

Marcel Gaskin

The decision was taken by Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire as she noted that persons within the Judicial system hold no precedence over others for the position of the Chairman.

The Chief Justice further explained that the arguments presented by Attorneys on behalf of President David Granger’s case proved to be irrational, highlighting that while the Constitution states that nominees for the post should fall into the categories of judge, former judge or someone eligible to be a judge, the first two categories are not compulsory.

Furthermore, she noted that the term “any other fit and proper person” allowed more space to select the six candidates, while highlighting that “there is no mandatory category.”

According to the Chief Justice, Granger should provide reasons for rejecting nominees presented by Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo for the position of the GECOM Chairman in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution which refers to the need for communication and negotiation. However, the President is not obligated to provide reasons.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger

The case was called before Chief Justice George-Wiltshire on June 27 2017, with submissions from a representative of the State; the plaintiff, businessman Marcel Gaskin’s attorney; Glenn Hanoman and the Guyana Bar Association representative; Attorney-at-Law Teni Housty.

Gaskin, a businessman and engineer, had moved to the High Court in March of this year to challenge the constitutionality of President Granger’s reasoning behind his rejection of Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo’s list of six nominees.

Gaskin, also the brother of Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, had wanted the court to determine whether Jagdeo’s list of nominees was indeed not “fit and proper” as declared by President Granger.

Granger has maintained that the list of nominees must include a judge, a retired judge or a person qualified to be a judge. On the other hand, Jagdeo has argued that the nominees do not have to be judge-type as the Constitution makes provision for another group of persons under the category of “fit and proper”.

The most recent GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally was not a judge or qualified to be a judge and neither were most of the past chairpersons. Granger had also accepted the nomination to serve as GECOM Chairman several years ago.




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