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President Granger says he has no personal prejudices or precondition for next GECOM Chair

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By Mark Murray

The final decision on the next Chair for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is not a choice President, David Granger is prepared to make until consultation with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The President on Wednesday morning told Reporters that he “intends to do that” since he has no objections on meeting with the Opposition Leader concerning the issue by saying “I wouldn’t make any choice until after consultations are completed.”

President Granger further added that “I am a man of great patience…I mean this is a Constitutional matter that is important to Guyana, so I am not rushing and I don’t want to bring the process to an end without both sides being satisfied and the public, of course, being satisfied.”

The Head of State made it known that he does not have any prejudices or precondition, since according to him he is merely “waiting for the process to work, but what I expected in the first instance that the list would have been sufficiently balanced to allow me to make that choice, but I don’t have any name in the back of my mind or the front of my mind.”

On December 21, 2016, the Opposition Leader would have submitted the names of the six persons he felt could take up the constitutional position which included Retired Major General, Norman Mc Lean, Lawrence Lachmansingh, James  Rose, Ramesh Dookoo, Ryhaan Shah and Attorney-at-Law and Chartered Accountant, Christopher Ram.

This list was rejected by the President on the grounds that they are “unacceptable” and quoted Article 161 of the Constitution which states “subject to the provisions of paragraph four 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 person to be appointed by the President from a list of six persons not unacceptable the President submitted by the Leader of the Opposition.”

He added that “four times in one Article they mentioned that word, Judge”, using it as his basis for rejection of the list, however, the Opposition is focusing on the “any other fit person” line of the article.

The Head of State later requested a second list as is also provided for in the constitution. However, the Opposition Leader has called for an urgent meeting on the way forward on the issue.

But today (Wednesday, January 18, 2017), the President said “he will get the letter today… I myself did not feel that there was anything that was obscure or unclear” outlining his reasons for rejecting the list.

Meanwhile, Former President Donald Ramotar was quoted in the local press as saying that Granger has a “moral obligation” to explain the rejection of the GECOM nominees.

“I think the former President… you know should observe the convention in some other countries and not try to comment on current political matters, he had his chance” Granger replied.

As of November 30 last year, long-serving GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally’s resignation from that post would have taken effect, causing the search for his successor to begin.

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