If there is no Opposition Leader, who is Govt to consult? – lawyer on Top Cop



Clifton Hicken’s appointment as acting Police Commissioner has not gone down well with some quarters, with the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) sending out a statement on Monday expressing concerns.

According to the PNCR in their statement, Article 211 (1) of the Constitution requires meaningful consultation with the Opposition Leader and Chairperson of the Police Service Commission on the appointment of the Top Cop.

However, Guyana has been without an Opposition Leader since January of 2022, when former Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon resigned the role. Harmon further resigned from Parliament itself earlier this month.

PNCR Leader Aubrey Norton, who was elected by the PNCR as leader since December of 2021, is yet to even step foot in Parliament.

This is despite the resignations of Harmon and Nicolette Henry, whose resignation doesn’t take effect until the end of March.

In an interview with this publication, prominent Attorney-at-Law and Member of Parliament (MP) Sanjeev Datadin pointed out that due to the fact that Hicken is acting as Commissioner of Police, there is no constitutional requirement for consultations.

Calling it “a misunderstanding on their part of the meaning and import of the legislation and Constitution”, Datadin further noted that while the APNU/AFC continues on without an Opposition Leader, the country’s business cannot remain at a standstill.

“The Constitution, in simple English, requires consultation for the appointment of a Commissioner. And there is no way that the appointment of a Commissioner arises at this point. This is utterly preposterous logic,” Datadin said.

“Are they saying the Government must go and appoint their Opposition Leader? They don’t want to have an Opposition Leader, that’s their problem. The Government must still carry on and do the job it must. If there is no Opposition Leader, who are we to consult?”

Hicken was appointed to the helm of the Guyana Police Force in an acting capacity as the current acting Top Cop Nigel Hoppie proceeds on pre-retirement leave.