No plans to delay any elections, says Minister Harmon

DPI/GINA, Friday, June 09, 2017

“The administration of President David Granger has made it clear that we have no intention of either lengthening or shortening the term of office. That, at the time when elections are to be called, they will be called and so we can put that matter to rest about trying to delay any elections,” Minister Joseph Harmon said at the post-Cabinet press briefing at the Ministry of the Presidency today.

The State Minister was responding to a question that the creation of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration and the delay in the appointment of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman “are all part of a plan to delay the elections to allow the coalition party enough time to take advantage of the oil profits and eventually for re-election.”

Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon.

“The process of the selection of the GECOM Chairman is still within the domain of consultations between the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo and the President and so I would wish to leave it there,” Minister Harmon however observed, in his response.

He further noted that, “even the Leader of the Opposition is on record as saying that he does not understand all the speculations that is going on and that he believes that the president has said that he would work assiduously with him to ensure that we get a Chairman for GECOM that is acceptable to all Guyanese and that can perform that function.” “So let us leave it there’,” the minister advised.

The Leader of the Opposition is to meet with the President on Monday, June 12 at 18:00hrs at State House. “Thereafter, we will know what comes out of that consultation,” the minister observed.

The minister was also asked about the President’s decision to proceed with the Monday’s meeting given the pending outcome of local businessman Marcel Gaskin’s High Court challenge to the constitutionality of his rejection of the Opposition Leader’s list of nominees for the position of GECOM Chairman.

The State Minister in responding observed that, “the consultation between the President and the Leader of the Opposition is not premised on any another consideration other than their own deliberate judgment.”

“The deliberations in the High Court as I understand it is for an interpretation to be given as to what is really fit and proper; an interpretation of the constitution which is seeking to say, that the president has to act in a certain way,” the minister said.

Whilst the minister said that he did not what to prejudge what would be ruling of the High Court, he noted that “there is nothing in the law that seeks to fetter the discretion of the president in matters of these nature.”

In fact the minister pointed out that “the law requires that the president consult with the leader of the opposition and that consultation has been extensive.”

“The President has said that he is prepared to sit with the Leader of the Opposition and work with him, until such time that we have a person that is fit and proper for the role of the chairman of GECOM, and I believe that as citizens we should give these two gentleman the opportunity to explore, all of the possibilities for them to find a person for that job,” the minister said.

The stalemate between the President and the Leader of the Opposition on the appointment of GECOM Chairman has been ongoing for a month now. President Granger has since rejected two lists of names submitted by the Leader of the Opposition on the grounds that the individuals did not possess the quality required for the position.

The president has since told the Opposition Leader that, among the qualities, a GECOM Chairman must not even be remotely associated with any political party and that the person must not be an activist in any sphere of endeavour.

The nominees that were rejected on the first list include Ramesh Dookhoo, Lawrence Latchmansingh, Major General (Rt’d) Norman McLean, Christopher Ram, Professor James Rose and Rhyaan Shaw.

Justice of Appeal B.S Roy, retired Justice William Ramlall, Attorney and former Magistrate Oneidge Walrond Allicock, Attorney Kashir Khan, Attorney Nadia Sagar and Captain Gerald Gouveia are the persons who were rejected on the second list submitted.

 

By: Macalia Santos

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