President to respect court ruling on GECOM matter – Harmon
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, has said President David Granger will respect the ruling of the High Court in regard to the stipulations governing selection of a Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), and will not step
outside the boundaries established by acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire.
Accordingly, a decision on the issue of the GECOM Chair will take into account that ruling.
Addressing a post-cabinet press conference on Thursday, The Minister of State said President Granger is convinced that the position of Chairman of GECOM is very important, and will thus in time make a determination in regard to filling that important position, following deliberation with members of Cabinet.
“The President respects the ruling of the court in this matter, and has no intention of stepping outside of the boundaries that (have been) established there. He respects that ruling, and wants to make that very clear,” Harmon said, while assuring the media that the President is anxious to have the matter brought to a conclusion, and is actively taking all the necessary steps in that direction.
Following the court ruling on July 19, the President had said the Chief Justice had given an interpretation based on her perception of the law, and he would continue to act in accordance with his perception of the Constitution, and would appoint
only someone who is fit and proper.
The High Court ruling has clarified that a nominee to the position of GECOM Chair need not necessarily be a former judge, a current judge, or a person possessing the qualifications to be a judge. In fact, in the Chief Justice’s ruling, the President would have to offer reasons for his rejection of names on the list, in keeping with good governance best practices.
Last week, President Granger confirmed receiving the third list of nominees for the post of GECOM Chair submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. He has said the selection cannot be a hurried process, but would be done at an appropriate time, following proper consultation.
On submitting the third list, on August 25, the Opposition Leader expressed hope that the President would take into consideration the ruling of the acting Chief Justice (CJ) in regard to the constitutional stipulation governing the appointment of a Chairman for GECOM.
This third list of nominees for the GECOM chairmanship comprises Major General (retired) Joseph Singh, Attorneys-at-law Teni Housty and Sanjeev Datadin, Businesswoman and Conservationist Annette Arjoon-Martins, Pastor Onesi LaFleur, and former Magistrate Krishnadatt Persaud.
Jagdeo’s letter to President Granger accompanying this list detailed that arriving at the six names was not an easy task. He explained that after considering antecedents in relation to the matter, and having had a subsequent meeting with the President at State House back in June, he had continued elaborate and protracted consultations with various stakeholders in an exercise that lasted for several weeks.
During that process, Jagdeo said, he had solicited stakeholders’ views and sought nominations in efforts to ensure that what was presented to the President were six names that satisfy the requirements contemplated by Article 161(2) of the Constitution.
Regarding the nominees, Jagdeo explained, one is a former Chairman of GECOM, while two are attorneys with over 10 years of “good standing” at the Guyana Bar, and both are qualified to be appointed as judges of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in Guyana.
Following rejection of the second list he had submitted, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had held consultation with Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman to find an amicable solution to the issue.
He was accompanied by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and PPP/C Parliamentarian Irfaan Ali. It was agreed at that consultation that in the event the third list was rejected by the President, there would be established a high-level team representing the President and the Opposition Leader, and that team would be tasked with working on exploring modalities to bring a resolution to the matter of selecting a Chair for GECOM. (Samuel Sukhnandan)