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Jagdeo says “fight” coming over GECOM List fiasco

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By Devina Samaroo

Opposition Leader Jagdeo said there is a rising feeling that the President, David Granger is setting the stage to unilaterally appoint a new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and has warned that any attempts to do so will ignite a political war.

“There will have a fight coming because it will mean that this country will be going down a path similar to the one that we had in the 70s and the 80s, a path of rigged elections and turmoil,” he declared during a press conference yesterday (2nd June, 2017) just a few hours before he officially received word that the President has once again rejected a list of nominees for the GECOM Chairman post.

The Opposition Leader has repeatedly promised litigation and other consequences for which the President will be responsible if he unilaterally selects someone to head GECOM.

At the press conference, Jagdeo was complaining that the work of GECOM is being stymied as it has been six months since the entity has been without a leader. He posited that Granger has had enough time to deal with the matter and argued that “this delay” is just to make it seem as though there is serious consideration of the names to create a façade.

“More and more I get the feeling that the President wants to appoint his own person,” the Opposition Leader expressed.

Jagdeo warned however that a unilateral appointment is in violation of the letter and spirit of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution and indeed, the Carter Formula.

In a press statement late last night, President Granger posited that Jagdeo “must get it right.”

According to the statement, Granger wants every member on the list to be to be deemed acceptable in his opinion.

“Every member of the list suggested must conform to the criteria and you cannot put on the list, a person who does not conform… I must be given a choice.  I don’t believe that the second list gave me the range of choice that the people of Guyana deserve,” he said.

The list included Justice of Appeal B.S. Roy (Retd); Justice William Ramlal (retd); Ms. Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Attorney-at-law and a former Magistrate; Mr Kashir Khan, Attorney-at-law; Ms Nadia Sagar, Attorney-at-law and Mr. Gerald Gouveia, businessman.

Jagdeo had complained that it was difficult coming up with that list and had noted that if the President keeps rejecting the list, the pool of qualified persons will become smaller.

The first list which was submitted in  December 2015 included Major General (retired) Norman Mc Lean, Attorney and Political Analyst, Mr. Christopher Ram, Former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Mr. Ramesh Dookhoo, Peace and Governance Consultant, Mr. Lawrence Lachmansingh, Businesswoman, Ms. Rhyaan Shah and Professor Dr. James Rose.

Granger had rejected the initial list on the grounds of the Constitution, claiming that everyone must 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.”

Businessman, Marcel Gaskin – who is the brother of Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who is the son – in – law of the President – has since legally challenged Granger’s rejection, asking the court to rule whether or not the rejection was constitutional.

The Leader of the Opposition must now submit a third list to the Head of State.

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