Govt, opposition yet to agree on nominees for GECOM Chair
─ Pres. Granger and opposition leader to meet
─ 13 names for consideration
DPI, Guyana, Thursday, July 11, 2019
Government and the opposition met for the third day to discuss the nominations of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon said that this latest meeting saw both sides agreeing to have their respective leaders meet soonest to chart the way forward.
The meeting focused on the government’s side bringing clarity to the meaning of “shortlisting” according to the DG, “shortlisting means to be submitted for further consideration and that is the understanding that we gave”. In addition to that, DG Harmon said “the names of President’s David Granger’s eight nominees will be part of the consideration which the Leader of the Opposition will make.” The two leaders will meet to consider the Opposition’s five names, shortlisted by the government side, and the eight submitted by the Head of State.
Minister of Public Security, the Honourable Khemraj Ramjattan further explained that the meeting was intended to narrow down the list of names selected. He said that additional names were to be provided by the opposition who failed to do so. Despite a suggestion to the opposition that consideration be made to the eight names proffered by President, he noted “they did not want to even narrow down those… That is not being consensual,” he added.
The Honourable Public Security Minister took umbrage to the claims by the opposition team that they needed to know as to whether the list submitted by President Granger found favour with him (President).
“In this of hammering out, we should narrow down whatever list of names came our way, either through suggestions from the leader of the opposition and from the president. That is what we are supposed to do, and we could have narrowed it down even to six, but they don’t want to move at all, in relation to our eight names… It is not acting with the consensual approach that the CCJ talked about.”
The meeting came after Tuesday’s, July 9 meeting. This concluded, according to the DG, with the rejection of several nominees “with reasons given”. The names of those rejected were not released in an effort to protect their integrities due to their positions in society.
The Head of State was represented at the ‘joint talks’ by Minister Ramjattan, Minister of Public Health, the Honourable Volda Lawrence and DG Harmon.
The leader of the opposition was represented by Honourable Gail Teixeira, Honourable Anil Nandlall, Honourable Juan Edghill and Honourable Joseph Hamilton.
At a press briefing, following the July 4 meeting, His Excellency President Granger and Opposition Leader, Honourable Bharrat Jagdeo discussed the selection of the chairman. The president told the media that the discussion with the opposition leader was focused on the means to be adopted for the nomination and appointment of a Chairman of the Elections Commission.
The president has repeatedly said that unless and until the chairman is appointed, the work of the commission will not be able to move ahead as quickly as possible.
“We are also bound now by the interpretation of the Caribbean Court of Justice, which has spoken twice on the issue of elections and it was really an obedience to that last injunction by that Court that I decided to meet the leader of the opposition to decide on a way forward and this has been done,” he said.
President Granger iterated that the opposition leader is free to present the names that have already been submitted on the past three lists and he has also agreed to confirm that those persons are still willing to have their names forwarded.
On Saturday last, the opposition re-submitted a list of eleven names to the Head of State for consideration for the appointment of a new chairman.
At the July 4 press briefing, the Head of State said the term ‘fit and proper’ is what he used but the Constitution is what stipulates the requirements to be ‘fit and proper’ to be selected for the position of the Chairman of GECOM.