LETTER: The implications of the list rejection are grave

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Dear Editor,

In rejecting the second list of nominees for the position of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, President David Granger appears unmindful of the writings of historian David Granger concerning national elections.

Historian David Granger writes in his book National Defence: A Brief History of the Guyana Defence Force 1965-2005 at page 78: “The general election was held in July 1973 in a climate of distrust over state control of the election apparatus. Anticipating public resistance, arising particularly from threats to prevent the removal of ballot boxes from polling stations before votes were counted and certified, the Administration called out the GDF to ensure the safety of the ballot boxes and electoral offices.”

And at page 82, historian Granger provides support for the distrust in writing about the Constitutional Amendment Bill of 1978, the enabling legislation that led to the 1980 autocratic constitution: “The evidence indicates that, contrary to the claims of the PNC party, only 14.01 per cent of the electorate turned out to vote at the referendum to determine the issue. The PNC claimed a positive vote of 79%.”
President Granger, in his rejection letter dated June 2, 2017 from the Ministry of the Presidency to the Leader of the Opposition, refers to “criteria” defined by him.

The Constitution speaks clearly on the criteria for appointment as Chairman and there is neither cause nor power for President Granger to give any interpretation of its provisions.

In his semantic rejection of the second list, President Granger deems the list to be “unacceptable” rather than a finding that not one of twelve persons ‒ judges, other professionals, businesspersons, a former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force, an elections specialist, a retired university professor and an author – as “not unacceptable”, which means that not one of them is acceptable. What makes the situation so absurd is that one of the persons was President Granger’s boss in the army!

This further rejection feeds the “climate of distrust” referred to by historian Granger and lends credence to the word going around that he has a particular judge in mind, whose name is being circulated.
The implications of this further rejection are considerable and grave.

The Bar Association and other bodies with an interest in the rule of law must take a position on this matter.

Yours faithfully,
Christopher Ram

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