Leader of the Opposition, former President and People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary, Bharrat Jagdeo has committed to meeting with Head of State, David Granger today over the brouhaha on the nominees for Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) with a second list rejected last week.
Jagdeo noted that despite his disagreement with the President’s decision, the offer to meet must be taken at face value as an attempt at a collaborative approach to solving the imbroglio.
The Opposition Leader, at a press conference last week, was quick to also reject recent speculation published in the public domain purportedly sourced to him as positions adopted in light of the President’s refusal of his nominees.
According to Jagdeo, “I do not conduct negotiations or discussion of a critical nature in the media…Nor will I telegraph my position.”
The former President prefaced his remarks to the media by openly rejecting the interpretation of Constitution with regard to GECOM offered by President Granger.
According to Jagdeo, “I totally disagree with the President’s interpretation.”
Granger, in his rejection of the list, said all of the persons did not meet the criteria as set out in the Constitution.
Those on the second list rejected by the Head of State are retired Justice of Appeal BS Roy; retired Justice William Ramlall; Attorney and former Magistrate, Oneidge Walrond-Allicock; Attorneys Kashir Khan and Nadia Sagar and businessman Gerald Gouveia.
Granger, in his rejection letter to Jagdeo, 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.”
Retired Judges Desiree Bernard, Claudette Singh, and Attorneys Ralph Ramkarran, SC, Timothy Jonas and Ronald Burch-Smith turned down his requests to be nominated.
Meanwhile, Jagdeo did use the occasion to speculate on what the possible outcome of today’s meeting.
Jagdeo said the President could request a brand new list; a request with which he will have to comply.
He suggested too that the President could also decide to appoint a GECOM Chairman unilaterally and reminded that this course of action would be staunchly resisted.
The PPP General Secretary indicated the Party’s “big concerns, particularly given signals from the government that they may move to unilaterally, unconstitutionally, and unlawfully, appoint a Chairman of GECOM”.
He said should the President go down this route, he would be faced with “litigation and there are other actions that I will not speak about at this point in time”.
According to the former President, the PPP/Civic will be exercising extra-parliamentary and parliamentary actions.
Jagdeo suggested too that President Granger could very well suggest a completely different course of action in resolving the imbroglio – a suggestion that would have to be taken under advisement.
Meanwhile, on the matter of the pending court case filed by a private citizen with a view to secure an interpretation of the constitutional provision for the appointment of the GECOM Chair; the former President said he would not be awaiting the determination of that case.
Jagdeo noted there was no assurance that the matter would be determined in finality at its next hearing and, in fact, it could very well be appealed all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice.
He suggested that the matter was of such nature that it would be imprudent for him to await its conclusion.
GECOM has been without a chairman since February 28, 2017, when Dr Steve Surujbally stepped down after 15 years at the helm.