Home Top Stories Opposition submits list of nominees for post of GECOM Chairman
…culled from first 3 lists
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo over the weekend submitted a list of 11 nominees to the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
This came a mere two days after the meeting between himself and President David Granger where both agreed that the process of selecting a chairman of GECOM was vital and would be done within days.
The names were submitted by the Opposition Leader via a letter from former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Chief Whip Gail Teixeira to Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.
The nominees include Annette Arjoon-Martins; BS Roy (Retired Justice of Appeal); Gerry Gouveia (Captain); Joseph Singh (Retired Major General); Kashir Khan (Attorney-at-Law); Krishnadatt Persaud (former Senior Magistrate); Lawrence Latchmansingh; Norman McLean (Retired Major General); Onesi La Fleur; Ramesh Dookhoo and William Ramlall (Retired Puisne Judge).
The names submitted by the Opposition Leader were pulled from the initial three lists that were submitted in 2017 and rejected by President Granger, who went on to unilaterally appoint Retired Justice James Patterson.
Businesswoman and author Rhyaan Shah, Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Christopher Ram, Prof. James Rose, Attorney-at-law, Nadia Sagar, Attorney-at-Law, Teni Housty and Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin whose names were on the previous lists have indicated that they were not willing for their names to be resubmitted for consideration for the post.
The letter to Harmon also stated that the Ministry of the Presidency would already have the Curriculum Vitae (CVs) for each nominee on record.
The Opposition Leader has also indicated that Teixeira and Anil Nandlall would represent him in the upcoming discussions on the proposed list of nominees.
In addition, Jagdeo stated that he looked forward to the submission of the President’s selection of representatives as soon as possible.
“Further, the Leader of the Opposition wishes to reiterate to the President his availability to meet at any time, and, is prepared to join the smaller group meetings, if required,” the latter stated.
The Opposition is hopeful the consultations between the Government and its representatives would commence today (Monday).
In 2017, the criteria set out by the President for someone to take up the position of GECOM Chair were as follows: the candidate should be a person who is qualified to be a judge of the High Court under Article 129 of the Constitution and under Section 5 of the High Court Act, Cap 3:02; that person should have been an Attorney-at-Law for a minimum of seven years; in the absence of 1 and 2 above, ‘any other fit and proper person’ should be appointed according to Article 161 (2) of the Constitution.
The categories of persons specified above are necessary because such persons should have the following characteristics: wide electoral knowledge, capable of handling electoral matters because he or she is qualified to exercise unlimited jurisdiction in civil matters; will discharge his or her functions without fear or favour, that is, he or she will not allow any person or organisation to influence him or her to compromise his or her neutrality; will discharge his or her functions neutrally, between the two opposing parties, as he or she would have done in court between two opposing litigants; will not be an activist in any form (gender, racial, religious, etc), and should also have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness and diligence in the discharge of his or her duty as Chairman.
James Patterson appointed GECOM Chairman
However, the President defied all the criteria and unilaterally appointed Retired Justice James Patterson as the Chairman.
This did not sit well with the PPP and as such, its Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, challenged the appointment.
At the time, President Granger had already rejected three lists submitted by Opposition Leader Jagdeo. These lists comprised a total of 18 names of former Judges, persons eligible to be judges, and prominent members of civil society.
The case was sent to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be heard and it was on May 8, 2019. On June 18, 2019, the CCJ ruled that the appointment of Patterson as GECOM Chairman was flawed and unconstitutional.
CCJ President, Justice Adrian Saunders, in the ruling, declared that before President Granger rejected persons nominated by Opposition Leader Jagdeo, reasons should have been given for the rejections in the interest of transparency.
According to Justice Saunders, the President gave no specific reason for refusing to appoint a Chairman from the lists submitted by the Opposition Leader. Saunders noted that the President disapproved a third list, without giving a specific reason.