Minister’s brother challenges President’s eligibility criteria

Businessman Marcel Gaskin has moved to the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of President David Granger’s reasoning behind his rejection of Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo’s list of six nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Gaskin is the brother of the Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who is the son-in-law of the President.
The businessman wants the court to determine whether Jagdeo’s list of nominees was indeed not “fit and proper” as declared by President Granger.
Granger has maintained that the list of nominees must include a Judge, a retired Judge or a person qualified to be a Judge. But Jagdeo has argued that the nominees do not have to be Judge-type as the Constitution makes provision for another group of persons under the category of “fit and proper”.
The former GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally is not of a Judge-type and neither were most of the past chairpersons.
Granger, who is a longstanding member of the People’s National Congress, had accepted the nomination to serve as GECOM Chairman several years ago.
Jagdeo had nominated Attorney Christopher Ram, Conflict Resolution Specialist Lawrence Lachmansingh, Retired Major General Norman McLean, Business executive Ramesh Dookhoo, Indian Rights Activitst Rhyaan Shah and History Professor James Rose.
The search for a new Chairman has been a rollercoaster ride given the different interpretations between the Leader of the Opposition and the President on the relevant section of the Constitution of Guyana which outlines the selection process for a new Chairman of GECOM.
Following weeks of impasse, Jagdeo finally agreed to return to the drawing board and submit a new list of nominees.
However, the civil society groups, which he has consulted with for recommendations for the posts are finding difficulties in identifying suitable persons in accordance to the President’s criteria.
His conditions disqualify any form of activists and persons affiliating with political parties to be nominated to the post.
Nonetheless, Jagdeo has pledged his commitment to submit a fresh list of nominees for the President’s consideration given the urgency of the matter.
Concerns have been raised about the President moving to unilaterally appoint a GECOM Chairman if he continues to find the list of nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader “unacceptable.”
In fact, given the difference in interpretations of the Constitution, Jagdeo had suggested moving to the courts to rule on the correct nature of the relevant section of the law.
The case filed by the businessman comes up before acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George-Wiltshire next week. The respondents are Attorney General Basil Williams and Opposition Leader Jagdeo.