Next step in appointment of Chancellor, CJ is ‘meaningful consultations’-Harmon

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State Minister, Joseph Harmon on Thursday asserted that in light of Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo’s rejection of the two nominees for the substantive appointment of Chancellor and Chief Justice (CJ) of the Judiciary, the next step is for there to be “meaningful consultations.”

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo and President David Granger at a previous engagement

He was at the time speaking during a Post Cabinet Press Briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency.

According to Harmon, the constitutional rejection made by the Opposition leader provides for another level of consultation before the appointments are made.

“Jagdeo’s rejection is constitutional. The President’s powers are also constitutional and there is a provision in the law which provides that in the event there cannot be an agreement, because the requirement is for agreement, that where the agreement cannot be met then there is a second level which now requires meaningful consultation, so I believe that that is the next step that we will have to go to” said Harmon.

(R) Justice Kenneth Benjamin and (L) current acting Chancellor Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards

Meanwhile, Jagdeo, in a press conference of his own on Thursday, stood by his decision to reject the two nominees appointed by President David Granger – Justice Kenneth Benjamin and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards- as Chancellor and Chief Justice, respectively.

However, he refrained from disclosing his reasons to the media, asserting that if it is made a requirement in the future, he will do so.

“If required sometime in the future, I can provide reasons for not agreeing with nominees,” he told media operatives.

Jagdeo dispatched a letter to the President Wednesday after he was invited to another meeting to discuss these matters. The meeting was not confirmed by the Ministry of the Presidency after it was scheduled last month.

The Opposition Leader letter said “Pursuant to our meeting held on January 3rd 2018, I have duly considered the two (2) nominees for whom you seek my agreement for appointment as Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, respectively, in accordance with Article 127 (1) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana.”

“As promised, I have done the requisite due diligence. It is with deep regret that I inform you that I am unable to offer my agreement to the appointment of Mr. Justice Kenneth Andrew Charles Benjamin,as Chancellor of the Judiciary and Madam Justice Yonette Decina Cummings-Edwards O.R., as Chief Justice”.

Jagdeo said that he remained cognizant of the fundamental importance of securing substantive appointments to these two high constitutional offices.

“As a result, I am committed to continuous engagement with your Excellency until there is due compliance with Article 127 (1) of the Constitution.”

According to Article 127 (2) of the Constitution: “If the office of Chancellor or Chief Justice is vacant…then, until a person has been appointed…, those functions shall be performed by such other of the Judges as may be appointed by the President in meaningful consultations with the Opposition Leader.”

The State Minister noted that the President will be writing Jagdeo on the matter.

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