Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo submitted his list of six nominees to President Granger for selection of one to be appointed as Chairman of the Guyana Election Commission (GECOM). The President should move with haste in making the appointment, since all of the nominees are fully qualified and ‘fit and proper’ to head GECOM. The business of the elections body has been left at a standstill since last February. That is more than six months, with a lot of work remaining in planning and organising for the next local government elections, due in 2019, and the general elections in 2020. This is enough reason to appoint a chair now.
There is no justifiable reason to further delay the appointment. The President wanted someone who is a judge or qualified to be a judge. The Chief Justice has chimed in, saying the six nominees or an appointee does not have to be a judge. The population at large also agrees with the Chief Justice in an opinion poll I conducted earlier this year. At any rate, Jagdeo has nominated a former Judge in his list.
As the language said, any fit or proper person can serve as Chair. Indeed, none of the Chairs of GECOM had been a judge, thus any fit or proper person who is not a judge or not qualified to be a judge, or not a lawyer, can be Chair of GECOM.
All of the nominees submitted by Jagdeo in his three different lists of six were/are all qualified to serve as Chair. Some were/are judges, or qualified to be judges; and some are respected lawyers.
All 18 nominees are outstanding characters who would have done an exceptional job in guaranteeing free and fair elections. One was certain the President would have appointed Lawrence Lachmansingh or Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram, men of integrity; or one of the other great Guyanese. Chris Ram campaigned for the coalition in 2011 and 2015, and Lachmansingh served as an election observer in several elections that benefited the coalition. One could not get a reasonable explanation for their rejection.
On the current list of nominees, retired Major General Joseph Singh is a former Chair of GECOM. He is the most qualified to be Chair, given his prior experience at the commission. In all likelihood, he would be the appointee, though the others would also do an exceptional job — Attorneys-at-Law Teni Housty and Sanjeev Datadin; former Magistrate Krishnadat Persaud; Aviator and businesswoman Annette Arjoon-Martins; and Pastor Onesi La Fleur.
President Granger would be hard put to reject Joe Singh or a former judge or a lawyer; and outside of these nominees, a more qualified person to serve as Chair would be almost impossible to find. The President should expedite the appointment from the latest list.