Just before flying off to Cuba for a check-up on his medical condition, caretaker President David Granger threw another long set of wrenches into the process of selecting a new Chair of GECOM, and as such, into setting a date for the next general elections— which he is constitutionally mandated to do by proclamation. Granger is now asserting that the role the CCJ advised he play in “hammering out” the list which the Leader of the Opposition is constitutionally required to submit to him, must also involve him in submitting and not merely suggesting names.
Granger insisted in an interview with one of his staff, “the President ***must*** be given [***must*** not “may”] ***must*** be given a role and it means that I have to be involved in the selection of nominees, before those nominees come back to me”. Now while this is seemingly non-contentious, the problem arises in the precise “role” the President envisages for himself. The magnanimous gesture of the Opposition Leader to propose that Granger can suggest some names in the consensual process towards compiling his list of six names has now evidently been transmuted in Granger’s mind into an absolute, non-negotiable right.
One challenge towards appreciating the point is that Granger insists on discussing it at a hypothetical level by pitching assertions such as this other formulation: “There is no way that the removal of the President’s role in the crafting of the list, the ‘hammering out’ of that list, could result in an outcome that is consensual, that is acceptable. It would be spurious if the Opposition insists on exclusively crafting that list or unilaterally crafting that list. The CCJ’s ruling makes it impossible for that to occur”.
But when we examine Granger’s actions, it becomes immediately apparent that he is simply engaging in sophistry to mask his intention to have another hand-picked candidate once again as the GECOM Chair. After several meetings between himself and Mr Jagdeo (with other members of their political entities) and also by plenipotentiaries of the two sides, Granger finally condescended in accepting four of Jagdeo’s nominees as “not unacceptable” from the original list of 11 he had culled out of the 18 names in his first three rejected lists. And it was here that Granger revealed his duplicity by insisting that two names which he selected from his original 8 following Jagdeo’s gesture, must be added to the other four to make up the requisite list of 6 to be presented to himself.
Now, even a most cursory examination of this demand would reveal that it is simply a Trojan horse for unilateralism by Granger. There are two considerations that are evident. The first is since Granger is the one who decides which name is “not unacceptable”, he would obviously be in a position to select his own nominee, whom he would have wanted from the beginning. And second, he would have reduced the role by the Opposition leader on compiling his list in the consensual process to a mere farce.
Granger resorted that if the Opposition Leader can continue to object to his nominees, this would lead to “gridlock”. But this is the result of his own artifice: if four names are “not unacceptable” to him, in the interest of obeying the orders of the CCJ to have elections be scheduled by Sept 18, what prevented him from choosing one of those names? By his insistence of including his own nominees, he is being just too clever for the good of the country. But he cannot be allowed to get away with the continuing series of constitutional violations he has committed. It is time for the people of Guyana to make a decision on the clear and present danger Granger and his PNC present to our fledgling democracy.
The first PNC dictatorship was not built in the stealth of the night, but in broad daylight. Let us not repeat that tragedy— it will be farcical. Defend the Constitution!