Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharat Jagdeo will soon be providing President David Granger with a new list of 6 nominees, one of which is expected to fill the now vacant position of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.
The People’s Progress Party (PPP) is a statement said that in the interest of moving the process forward Jagdeo wrote to the President requesting some additional clarifications, while also informing him that the new names would be provided.
The PPP said it examined the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana, proffered by Attorney General, Basil Williams, SC in the recently concluded engagement with Anil Nandlall and Priya Manikchand.
And while the Opposition leader has acquiesced to providing a new list of 6 nominees, the PPP in their statement said that “we do not agree with Williams’ interpretation, we recognise that he has finally conceded that Article 161 (2) of the Constitution qualifies two categories of persons for the position of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), namely: Judges, former Judges and persons qualified to hold the position of Judges AND, or any other fit and proper persons.”
Furthermore the party said that “the Constitution does not accord any preference whatsoever to one of these categories of persons over the other as Williams contends. Neither the letter nor the spirit of the Constitution confers such a bias.”
The PPP says it is of the firm view that persons from either of these categories are equally qualified for the position of Chairman of GECOM.
“Our position is consistent with the historical evolution of this particular Article of the Constitution, as well as, the qualities and qualifications of the persons who have held this position since this Article came into force” said the party in their statement.
Recognizing the importance of having the position of the GECOM Chairman filled, Jagdeo had said that he would consider submitting a second list, depending on the outcome of the meeting between the Attorney General and his representative.
“After that meeting, should I have to submit a new list, I would probably consult broadly again with people so that I can get the best names to go forward,” he explained while noting that doing so would be keeping with the best interest of the country.
The agreed list of new nominees comes on the heels of outgoing GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally demitting office today even though President Granger had wanted him to stay on until a new Chairman was ‘smoothly transitioned.’
Jagdeo had nominated Lawrence Latchmansingh, Ramesh Dookhoo, Norman Mc Lean, Christopher Ram, Rhyaan Shaw and Professor James Rose as the six persons in his first list which was rejected by President Granger who had said that they were ‘unacceptable’ on the grounds that none of them were judges or have the background and qualifications of a Judge which he outlined was in keeping with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.
The Opposition’s main contention was that the Constitution outlined that the post could be filled by any other “fit and proper” person and it was not just limited to a Judge. As this was the prevailing situation that obtained with other Gecom Chairpersons that were chosen before, the most recent being Surujbally himself, who is a veterinarian by profession.