GECOM Chair: Kaieteur News’ self-serving interpretation of the Constitution must stop- PPP

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The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has issued scathing remarks against the Kaieteur News outfit for what the party says is its agenda filled interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana, in respect of the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

The PPP is a statement said that at page 15 of Kaieteur News May 3 2017, edition, an article under the caption, “Two judges, three lawyers in new GECOM list”, peddles the patent falsehood that President David Granger can, “reject the list and ask for a fresh one or move to name a chairman of his own choosing.”

According to the Opposition, “Article 161 (2) of the Constitution is very clear and vests no power whatsoever in the President to appoint a Chairman of his own choosing once the Leader of the Opposition has submitted to him a list of six names. It is only when no list is submitted by the Leader of the Opposition that the President has such a power.”

The Party is condemning what it feels is a deliberate and continuous affront by Kaieteur News to distort the letter and spirit of Article 161 (2). “We have repeatedly highlighted this erroneous contention being pushed by Kaieteur News. Yet they persist with this flagrant inaccuracy. Many feel that this is indeed the ultimate agenda of the President and the Kaieteur News is the mouthpiece through which he speaks” said the PPP.

The political Opposition is calling on the “Editor of Kaieteur News to immediately stop publishing this warped and politically self-serving interpretation of the Constitution.”

Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo on Tuesday, submitted his second list of six names for the appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman to President David Granger, after he (President) deemed the first list submitted by Jagdeo as “unacceptable”, based on the his interpretation of the Constitution that a current or sitting judge or someone eligible to be a judge in Guyana or the Commonwealth Caribbean is preferred to be appointed as Chairman of the electoral body.

However, the Opposition’s contention was that the Constitution clearly contemplates two categories of persons for the post: “Firstly, a High Court judge or an Appellate Court judge, a former High Court or an Appellate Court judge or a person qualified to be a High Court or an Appellate Court judge. Secondly, or (disjunctive), any “fit and proper” person.”

An Opposition team was established and meet twice with the Attorney General, Basil Williams, SC, as it pertained to the interpretation of Article 161 (2) but, both meetings proved to be unfruitful.

With no end to the stalemate in sight, Jagdeo agreed to provide the President with a new list of nominees.

The second list of new nominees were identified as  Justice of Appeal B.S Roy (ret’d),   Justice William Ramlall (ret’d), Ms. Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Attorney-at-law and a former Magistrate,   Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-law,  Ms. Nadia Sagar, Attorney-at-law, and Gerald Gouveia.

According to Jagdeo “it will be observed, that in respect of the names which I submitted to the President, one(1) is a former Judge of the Court of Appeal of Guyana; one(1) is a former Judge of the High Court of Guyana; three(3) are Attorneys-at-law with over ten(10) years of good standing at the Guyana Bar and one(1) is a former Magistrate and therefore, qualify to be Judges of a Court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in Guyana, in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana; and one(1) is a former Captain of the Guyana Defence Force, a Pilot, and a Businessman and Entrepreneur.”

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