File Photo: President David Granger greeting Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, at the Ministry of the Presidency earlier this year …President to write opposition leader on appointment this week PRESIDENT David Granger said he will write the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, this week to re-initiate the process of appointing a new chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) in light of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ’s) decision that the process of appointing Justice (Ret’d) James Patterson, Chairman of GECOM was flawed.
On the sideline of a credential ceremony at the Ministry of the Presidency on Tuesday, President Granger told reporters that he will write the opposition leader and invite him to resume the process of consultation as mandated by the Constitution of Guyana. He is hoping that this process can resume as early as next week.
With the CCJ ruling that the motion of no-confidence against the government was successfully passed, the appointment of a new Chairman of the Elections Commission becomes even more important and urgent, now that early elections are now mandated.
The CCJ will make a number of consequential orders on Monday, in part with respect to the appointment of a new GECOM Chairman; however, it has asked the parties to arrive at a consensus ahead of those orders.
“We propose that between now and the 24th, the parties engage with each other, and on the 24th we will hear submissions from the parties or we would hear from the parties on that issue of the consequential relief,” President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders, said on Tuesday.
Maintaining that the findings of the CCJ are final, Justice Saunders expressed the hope that the parties in the two cases would arrive at a consensus. “If between now and the 24th (June) there is no concurrence on that issue, then we will have to find a way,” Justice Saunders told the Legal Counsel.
President Granger said he has no difficulty meeting with the leader of the opposition. “I have no problem in meeting the leader of the opposition. I have said, in response to your question, I will write to him, invite him to a meeting to resume consultation,” President Granger said.
According to Article 161 (2) of the Constitution, the opposition leader, after meaningful consultation with the non-governmental political parties represented in the National Assembly, must submit a list of six persons, to the President for the selection of a Chairman of GECOM, however, the list must not be unacceptable to the President.
In handing down the judgment, in the case of Zulfikar Mustapha v the Attorney General, President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders, said in the case of the appointment of Justice Patterson as Chairman of the Elections Commission, the process was flawed. Justice Patterson was appointed Chairman of GECOM after the President rejected a total of three lists compromising 18 names submitted by the opposition.
President Granger had activated the proviso within Article 161 (2) which empowers him to select a name outside of the list provided once the criteria were not met. But the CCJ ruled that meaningful consultation between the President and the opposition leader ought to have taken place and a consensus arrived at before the formal submission of the list to the President.
Justice Patterson was appointed Chairman of GECOM on October 19, 2017 by President Granger after almost a year of meetings and back and forth discussions between the President and the opposition leader on the critical post.
The first list included business executive Ramesh Dookhoo, Lawrence Latchmansingh, Major General (Rtd) Norman McLean , accountant Christopher Ram, Professor James Rose and Rhyaan Shaw.
The second list included Retired Justices Claudette Singh and B.S. Roy; PPP Member of Parliament and GECOM Commissioner, Bibi Shadick; Attorneys Timothy Jonas and Kashir Khan, and environmentalist Annette Arjoon-Martins.
The third list comprised of Joseph Singh, a retired Guyana Defence Force Major General; former magistrate Krisndat Persaud; attorneys Teni Housty and Sanjeev Datadin; pilot and biodiversity advocate Annette Arjoon-Martins; and Adventist pastor and agriculturalist, Onesi La Fleur.
The President had noted that the lists of nominees submitted by the opposition leader were unacceptable within the meaning of the Constitution.
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle