By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Following consultations with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday, December 09, 2015, President David Granger nominated Justice of Appeal Madam Yonette Cummings-Edwards as Chief Justice.
The decision was made given the fact that acting Chief Justice, Ian Chang is proceeding on leave. A statement from the Attorney General’s Chambers revealed that Madame Cummings – Edwards was appointed after they considered that she is a woman with “many years experience as a Puisne Judge of the High Court of the Supreme Court of Judicature, a Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal, her competency and professionalism.”
However, Opposition Leader Jagdeo told an impromptu press conference at Freedom House today that the President’s nominee should be able to fulfill at least two criteria for the post of Chief Justice, such as being the most senior Judge on the bench.
Jagdeo also suggested that the President should seek an objective report from the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) on the performance of the nominee before the appointment is made.
“These two factors should determine the person who is appointed,” said Jagdeo, who noted that he made his suggestions known to the President.
The Opposition Leader further noted that the President never asked him if he had a nominee for the post but the question was put to him by the Attorney General, Basil Williams.
According to Jagdeo, he does not have a nominee and was only made aware of the President’s choice when he arrived for the meeting this morning at the Ministry of the Presidency.
When asked, the Opposition Leader could not say whether he is in agreement with the President’s nominee, pointing out that he does not know Madam Yonette Cummings-Edwards personally.
He explained that he is still “gathering information.” According to Jagdeo, “the media should seek to find out from the President’s office what process was used to determine that appointment.”
Meanwhile, a subsequent statement from the Ministry of the Presidency noted that President Granger described the nominee as the most suitable person to act in the position.
“We looked at the judges particularly, the judges in the appeal court and we felt that Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards was the person that could carry out the duties of Chief Justice. We felt she was the most suitable person. We looked at her experience; the decisions that she has given, her qualifications and we felt she was the most suitable when all these factors were taken into consideration”, the President said.
The President added that the consultative process was conducted completely in line with what is required by Guyana’s Constitution.
“The Constitution requires me to consult and having considered the potential candidates, I have made my choice. I am satisfied that she is a good person to fulfill that function and in due course I will have to have other consultations with the Leader of the Opposition to have a permanent appointee but right now Mr. Carl Singh is the substantive Chief Justice, he is acting Chancellor and I do hope that in due course we will be able to have substantive persons in both positions”’ he said.