• AFC supports President on GECOM’s chairmanship list rejection

    first_imgThe Alliance For Change (AFC) on Friday said it stands in support of the decisions taken by President David Granger on the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) chairmanship, noting that those assessments are very much constitutional.The situation, as it stands, has seen President David Granger rejecting the list of nominees presented by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, arguing that it was unacceptable. Jagdeo and former Attorney General Anil Nandlall are considering taking the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).However, AFC Leader Khemraj Ramjattan, speaking to journalists at the party’s first bi-weekly press conference for the year, at its Campbellsville, Georgetown office, said the Constitution has clearly laid out that the nominee for the position must be someone that is “acceptable to the President”.“In my understanding of what transpired in the letter between the President and the OppositionLeader is that he (the President) has found that those first names on that list are not acceptable to him and that is wholly constitutional. You go to a second list and if on the second list the President feels that those six other names are not acceptable, he can say that they are unacceptable and he can proceed to name whosoever he wants of his own volition,” Ramjattan said.According to the party leader, the President really does not have to give the Opposition Leader any reason for refusing the names. There is also no court of law that can compel him to do so.“It is a political question and the matter is ‘non-justiciable’.” He said the issue of Anil Nandlall and Jagdeo going to the CCJ is not even possible, since any matter has to pass through the High Court and the Court of Appeal before it reaches the CCJ.“It is totally constitutional what the President is doing.” Ramjattan said he understands that the President has found the list of names submitted unacceptable and he will now await another list of names.On Thursday, Jagdeo said he strongly believed President Granger was playing politics with the matter and said he was considering having the issue resolved at the CCJ.He contended that Attorney General Basil Williams is erroneous in his assertion that the interpretation of the Constitution is at the discretion of the President.The Opposition Leader also warned that Government might be setting the stage for a possible rigging of the next General and Regional Elections.Jagdeo also suspects that Granger is relying on the “Burnham Constitution” – the 1980 Constitution which stipulates that the person to be appointed as GECOM Chairman has to be a Judge or eligible to be a Judge only to be appointed by the President unilaterally.The Opposition Leader highlighted that while individuals would have their own understandings, only the courts can make a determination of the most rightful interpretation.Jagdeo also believes that the AG is wrong in his interpretation of the constitutional provision which allows for the President to unilaterally appoint a GECOM Chairman.Williams expressed that the Opposition Leader will have to submit the list several times until “he gets it right… failing which the President will be forced to make an appointment.”But Jagdeo believes that provision is designed to ensure the country moves forward in the event the Opposition party refuses to participate in the process.The Government and the parliamentary Opposition have differing interpretations of the Constitution regarding the appointment of the GECOM Chairman – a situation that has never occurred before in the country’s history.Article 161(2) states, “Subject to the provision of paragraph (4), the Chairman of the Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or who has held office as a Judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court, or who is qualified to be appointed as any such Judge, or any other fit and proper person, to be appointed by the President from a list of six persons, not unacceptable to the President, submitted by the Leader of the Opposition after meaningful consultation with the non-governmental political parties represented in the National Assembly.”President David Granger initially rejected the six nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader following consultations with civil society on the grounds that they do not meet the constitutional requirement of being a Judge or being eligible to become one.last_img

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