Despite the Constitution of Guyana stating that the President should select a Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission from a list submitted by the Opposition Leader, President David Granger is now proposing to come up with his own list.
This was indicated in a letter to the Opposition from the Ministry of the Presidency written by Director General Joseph Harmon on Friday, June 28. In the letter, Harmon proposed on President Granger’s behalf that the Head of State be allowed to nominate persons for the position of GECOM Chairman himself.
Harmon based this reasoning on the Caribbean Court of Justice’s request the two sides meet and discuss eligible candidates. He also suggested Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo consider this before a date is set for the two leaders to meet.
In response, however, the People’s Progressive Party, through its executive member, Gail Texieira, rejected the proposal.
Texieira pointed out that Article 161 of the Constitution clearly states that it is the Opposition leader’s job to submit names to the President, not the other way around. She noted that to do otherwise would be a case of the President usurping the Opposition Leader’s role.
The former Opposition Chief Whip also noted that the CCJ was merely providing guidance on how to conduct the engagement with the two sides.
Notwithstanding this, however, Texieira informed Harmon that the Opposition Leader was open to the President suggesting names, informally.
Meanwhile, the Head of State still did not name a date to meet the Opposition Leader.
Following the June 18 rulings, the CCJ President urged the two sides to meet to find consensus before last Monday’s hearing for consequential orders.
However, President David Granger sent an invitation to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on the Friday before for them to meet after the hearing. But during that hearing, Justice Saunders expressed disappointment that the two leaders were yet to meet.
Despite Jagdeo having responded to the President’s invite, no date has been set for the two leaders to meet to discuss the appointment of a new GECOM Chair.
Last week, former GECOM Chairman, retired justice James Patterson officially resigned. Long before that, however, his appointment was deemed unconstitutional by the CCJ.
Nevertheless according to Jagdeo, he needs to meet with the Head of State to first determine how they will proceed with the new appointment. This would determine whether they will select someone from the 18 nominees who were previously rejected or come up with an entirely new list.
All parties involved are expected back at the CCJ on June 12, when the Trinidad based court will hand down consequential orders. Most importantly, these orders will decide when constitutionally due elections are to be held in Guyana.