President’s comments complement, not contradict, CJ’s ruling – MoTP
The Ministry of the Presidency (MoTP) has said that President David Granger’s comments on the recent ruling handed down by the acting Chief Justice in regard to the requirements for appointing a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) did not contradict, but in fact complemented, the Court’s decision.
In a statement released on Saturday evening, the MoTP refuted any assertion that President Granger has rejected the ruling of acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on the case brought against Attorney General Basil Williams by private citizen Marcel Gaskin.
The MoTP pointed out that any contrary commentary to its assertion is clearly a deliberate misinterpretation of President Granger’s remarks.
“There is no indication that the Head of State ‘dismissed’ the Chief Justice’s ruling, or that (the President) does not observe the separation of powers between the Executive Branch of Government and the Judiciary. In fact, what President Granger actually said is that he (would) continue to act according to the requirements of the Constitution,” the MoTP statement outlined.
Local businessman Marcel Gaskin, brother of Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, had asked the High Court to interpret the Constitution as it relates to the selection of a Chairman for GECOM, and the High has so done.
Speaking to members of the media last Wednesday, the Head of State said, “I will continue to act within my perception of the Constitution; that is to say, I will not appoint somebody that I do not consider ‘fit and proper’.”
The MoTP has stressed that the words ‘fit and proper’ are taken directly from Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana, and are an iteration of what the acting Chief Justice is reported to have said in her ruling based on her perception of that article.
“While the President believes that the Constitution was crafted the way it was to give preference to the appointment of ‘a person who holds or who has held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth, or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court, or (someone) who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge’, he has never disagreed with the acting Chief Justice’s ruling, in that the Constitution clearly states that ‘any other fit and proper person’ can be appointed. President Granger’s comments complement, and do not contradict, that ruling,” the MoTP has posited.
The MoTP has highlighted that, as early as January 2017, during a recording of The Public Interest, the President had said he believes that what the drafters of the Constitution had in mind was someone who had arrived at the position of a judge, as it is expected that that person would have been someone who possesses the qualities of impartiality, integrity and intelligence.
The President added that any ‘fit or proper person’ must approximate those qualities that characterise what is expected of a judge. The statement declared that President Granger further told media operatives last week that he remains committed to the spirit of the Constitution.
“I do not believe that anything that the Honourable Chief Justice said has diminished my regard for the word or the spirit of the Constitution. I do believe that the person must be independent, must be impartial, and I am looking for that independence and that impartiality,” the Head of State said days ago.
According to the MoTP statement, the Head of State remains committed to the separation of powers of the Executive and the Judiciary, and nothing in his word or actions has demonstrated anything otherwise.