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AFC sees no need for meeting between President and Opposition Leader on GECOM’s Chair

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Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) says he does not see the need for a meeting between the Leader of the Opposition and the Head of State on the appointment of a Chair for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo at a Press Conference on Thursday (January 12, 2017) said he is still awaiting word from the Ministry of the Presidency on a suggested meeting with President David Granger on the appointment of GECOM’s chair.

At a Press Conference on Friday, the AFC, Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan was asked if he sees the need for the urgent meeting with the President to discuss the appointment to which he said “absolutely not”, given the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo’s attitude towards the President in the National Assembly when he walked out.

“You know the egotist that he is, when he says ‘I want to meet the President,’ the President must say ‘yes man, Which venue? What time? What date?…nooo, we mustn’t treat Jaggabats like that,” Ramjattan said.

Jagdeo also said that should the meeting happen, he would put forward that the Caribbean Court of Justice (C.C.J) interpret the legislation. However, during Friday’s Press Conference, Ramjattan said Jagdeo has to go through the High court and the Court of Appeal before reaching the CCJ.

In relation to the public back-and-forth on the issue, Ramjattan affirmed that it is up to the President to make a decision on who he finds acceptable and who he finds unacceptable, noting that the Head of State does not need to give reasons for his decision.

“Whatever the reason the president give, even it is wrong reasoning… that does not matter because that is not relevant. At this stage, it is that he does not find them acceptable. Because reasons are no longer required within the realm of politics” the AFC leader said.

President Granger had said that the list of nominees provided to him is unacceptable and falls short of the Constitutional requirements. He noted that the Article first outlines clearly that “…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…”.

However, the Opposition is saying that article continues with “or any fit and proper person.” It is their view that failure to admit the other parts of the constitution makes the past Chairs of GECOM unconstitutional.

Further questioned on whether he agrees with the President’s reasoning, he responded in the negative.

“Those (former Chairs) were very much constitutional…it was very fortunate that the then President and the Opposition leader managed to find favour with a name in the first list…” he said.

The Opposition Leader’s first list of nominees for the Chair includes rights activist, Ryhaan Shah, Lawrence Lachmansingh; Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram; Former Private Sector Commission Chairman, Ramesh Dookhoo, Professor  Dr. James Rose and Retired Major General, Norman Mc Lean.

He was recently asked to provide a second list. If the President again does not find this list acceptable, he will be permitted to choose someone he does not find to be displeasing.

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