Granger rejects second list of GECOM nominees

… Jagdeo promises Granger “will have a fight coming”

Head of State David Granger has rejected a second list of nominees for the position of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), which was submitted by Leader of the Opposition, People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The announcement by Granger was made mere hours after Jagdeo vowed to put

President David Granger

up a fight should his list be rejected a second time.

The President had rejected Jagdeo’s initial list on the grounds that the identified persons were not ‘fit and proper’ in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution of Guyana.

Granger in his rejection letter to Jagdeo on Friday said, “I have examined the Curriculum Vitae of the six persons in light of the criteria defined in my letter to you dated 2017-03-14… I have found the list to be unacceptable within the meaning of the Constitution and of those criteria.”

The Opposition Leader had met with media operatives earlier in the day and said, “if he (President Granger) moves outside of the list he will have a fight.”

According to Jagdeo, “as I said before, if there is any attempt to move outside of the intent of the Carter Centre formula that was enshrined in our Constitution, which gives the President the right to reject any list, but not to choose from outside of a list that the Opposition Leader submits to him, only if the Opposition Leader refuses to submit a list, and if he moves outside of that he will have a fight coming because it will mean that this country will be going down a path similar to the one

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo

that we had in the 70s and 80s; a path of rigged elections and turmoil.”

The Opposition Leader had earlier lamented the fact that the President has had enough time to deal with the matter and that the work at GECOM was now being stymied as a result of no Chairman being in place.

Jagdeo used the occasion to recall too that at least one media house (Guyana Times) had reported that the President had made up his mind on rejecting the list and was intent on naming a GECOM Chairman unilaterally.

It was reported that Granger’s choice for the post has always been retired Justice, Claudette La Bennett.

The Opposition Leader told media operatives his Party was coming around to accepting this notion since it appears that the delay in making a decision on the list was in fact meant to create a façade.

“I was told that the President had already made a decision to reject the list… more and more I get the feeling that what that media house said to me was accurate,” Jagdeo surmised.

He suggested that the delay was to “make it seem as though there is serious consideration of the names… just to create this façade that what is happening that they really examining the names and so this is an issue, one that goes straight to the President’s credibility, his lofty sounding speeches have to now be matched by action.”

A few hours later, the Ministry of the Presidency responded to Jagdeo’s list of nominees calling the nominees unacceptable.

The PPP in a public missive subsequently reiterated its “apprehension that the President is bent on unilaterally selecting a person of his choice in violation of the letter and spirit of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution and indeed, the Carter Formula…The Leader of the Opposition hereby assures that should the President proceed along this unconstitutional, undemocratic and diabolical path there will be litigation and other consequences for which the President will be responsible.”

It was observed by the PPP too that President Granger did not indicate what next steps, if any the President requires to be taken.

“This letter was received a few hours after the Leader of the Opposition concluded a press conference, at which he was critical of the President’s overall approach to this issue, which he considers to be of fundamental national importance,” the party observed.

The PPP missive said too that the “Leader of the Opposition notes with deep concern the cavalier and callous manner in which the President continues to express no confidence in and denigrate the professional reputation, integrity and competence of Guyanese of high calibre who have rendered sterling contributions to the development of our country and in service to our people and who have distinguished themselves in their individual endeavours and pursuits.”

Jagdeo, in April last, had submitted to President David Granger a second batch of six nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.

They are Retired Justice of Appeal BS Roy; Retired Justice William Ramlall; former Magistrate Oneidge Walrond-Allicock; Attorneys Kashir Khan and Nadia Sagar; and businessman, Captain Gerald Gouveia.

Retired Judges Desiree Bernard, Claudette Singh, and Attorneys Ralph Ramkarran SC, Timothy Jonas and Ronald Burch-Smith have turned down his requests to be nominated.

This second list followed Granger’s deeming the first list “unacceptable” in early January 2017 because none of them was a Judge, retired Judge or eligible to be appointed a Judge. Granger’s rejection of the list was in keeping with ‘his interpretation’ of Guyana’s Constitution.

The President subsequently amended his position that a GECOM Chairman must not only be a fit and proper person but must not be an activist or member of any political party.

GECOM has been without a Chairman since February 28, 2017, when Dr Steve Surujbally stepped down after 15 years at the helm.

Jagdeo at the time of submitting that list had indicated to the President, “Having regard to the antecedents in relation to this matter, arriving at these six names was not an easy task… I embarked upon an elaborate and protracted public and private consultative process which lasted several weeks, during which I solicited the views of, and sought nominations from, many nationally renowned persons and various important stakeholders’ and representative organisations, in my efforts to ensure that I present six names to the President who satisfy the requirements contemplated by Article 161(2) of the Constitution.”