Home News Jagdeo renews calls for impartiality model for GECOM
…willing to discuss issue with President
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is insisting that any changes to the composition formula used by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) will have to be a model that encompasses impartiality.
Speaking at his weekly press conference on Thursday, Jagdeo posited that he is willing to have discussions with President David Granger on a new formula for the composition of the elections body but only if that new method would ensure impartiality at GECOM.
“We’re not reticent to discuss anything but we are going to be very cautious to ensure that a formula that we have now enshrined in our Constitution, which emphasises impartiality and joint participation in selecting the Chairman, that that formula is not undermined in favour of one that will remove that consensus or impartiality,” he stated.
At a press conference two weeks ago, President Granger said the ‘Carter Forumla’ that currently guides the composition of GECOM has exhausted its usefulness and that he will include it on the agenda to discuss with the Opposition Leader during their planned talks.
The ‘Charter Formula’ refers to the composition of the Commission, which is comprised of six Commissioners – three from the Opposition and three from the Government’s side – and a Chairman appointed by the President in “meaningful consultations” with the Opposition Leader.
This method was devised by former United States President Jimmy Carter following the controversial 1992 elections.
However, President Granger has faced heavy criticism when he unilaterally appointed retired Justice James Patterson as the new GECOM Chairman last year after rejecting three lists of six nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader.
This had once again reinforced the need for electoral reform, something which the Head of State recognises but told media operatives at his press conference on Friday that it would require consensus on both sides.
“Yes we could consider the reform of GECOM, we are still working under the Carter Formula which we generally agreed to have exhausted its usefulness. It’s like having a cricket match with one umpire from each team… it is not a formula for consensus, it’s almost a formula for gridlock. So there needs to be a change… So I’m in favour of reform but we must adopt the architecture, we must adopt the procedures which are in place for other constitutional commissions,” the Head of State had asserted.
However, Jagdeo on Thursday said he will have to seek clarity from the President as to his proposed model.
“The President said we could use the model of other constitutional bodies and somehow there has been, in the minds of a few people, what those constitutional bodies are, which model. There are several constitutional bodies and most of these do not require two-thirds support of the National Assembly to be put in place – because I saw some comment that we should go with that model. So I have to seek out from the President which of these constitutional bodies he is talking about when he said we should use those as the model,” the Opposition Leader indicated.
for decades now, election observer groups both internationally and regionally have been insisting that while GECOM’s purpose for existence is to administer free and fair electoral processes, Guyana should consider reforms that would reduce or eliminate the politicised composition of the election body in order to ensure independence and impartiality.