Opposition deems engagement with Attorney General on GECOM Chair as “futile”

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Even as the current Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) prepares to host his farewell Press Conference today (February 28, 2017), the Government and Opposition have not come to an agreement in relation to the appointment of the next Chair.

Opposition members, Priya Manikchand and Anil Nandlall concluded their second meeting with Attorney General, Basil Williams yesterday (Monday, February 27, 2017) in relation to the appointment of the next chair of GECOM.

The opposition in a statement on Monday said the AG failed to address the quintessential issue and the real crux of the matter: who qualify as/or what are the attributes of, “any other fit and proper person”.

President David Granger had previously recommended that a meeting be convened between the two sides to address concerns after Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo requested certain clarifications on the President’s interpretation of Article 161(2) of the Constitution and a meeting to discuss the matter.

At Monday’s meeting, Nandlall said rather than offer his or the Government’s interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution, as he promised on the last occasion, Mr. Williams handed over a document titled: ‘Response of Hon. Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC, MP to the Opposition’s contention on Article 161 (2) of the Constitution’.

In this document, the Attorney General disputes that “the ejusdem generis rule of construction od statute applies to Guyana. In our view, this does not assist in resolving the matters of controversy.”

The Opposition member added that in fact, “if we are to follow suit and reciprocate, we will end up creating another and new controversy, i.e., whether that cannon of statutory construction does or does not apply in Guyana. This simply distracts from the issue at hand.”

In the final few paragraphs of the document, the AG simply recites Article 161 (2) of the Constitution and contends that in his view… “the ideal person in contemplation of the framers of the Constitution is someone who falls into the first category namely, a Judge, a person who has held office as a Judge or a person qualified to be a Judge… a list from the Leader of the Opposition with candidates that only fit into the second category namely ‘any other fit and proper person’ would be an unacceptable list” Nandlall added.

In conclusion, the Opposition noted that in the circumstances, the engagement with the Attorney General was futile.

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