Granger will respect ‘boundaries’ of Court ruling in choosing next GECOM Chair – Harmon

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The State has assured that President David Granger will respect the ruling of the High Court and will not step outside the “boundaries” established by Chief Justice (Ag) Roxanne George-Wiltshire as it relates to the appointment of a new chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission.

The assurance was given by the Minister of State Joseph Harmon during a post-cabinet press briefing Thursday.

President Granger and the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo have been in a tug of war regarding this critical appointment – with the President already rejecting 12 nominations initially on the basis that each individual list did not include all judge-like candidates.

However, a High Court ruling on the interpretation of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution, which governs this process, clarified that not all the nominees must be a former judge, a present judge or possess the qualifications to be a judge.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

The ruling specified that if only one person on the list submitted is “fit and proper”, then the President must appoint that individual as the Head of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

The ruling also said that the President, in the interest of democracy and good governance, is obliged to state reasons for the rejection of each nominee – an action Granger did not undertake and has since expressed no intentions of doing since it is not a legal requirement.

The Chief Justice also made a ruling on the proviso under the Constitution which outlines a process to be taken if the Leader of the Opposition fails to participate in the procedure – however the applicant in the case, Marcel Gaskin asserted that he never asked the court to rule on this particular issue.

Reports suggest that the Chief Justice ruled that the President is not obliged to select a person from the six names on the list unless he has determined positively that the persons thereon are unacceptable as a fit and proper person for appointment.

Gaskin has since argued that this ruling is a “gross error” as it was never up for contention and he had since signaled his intention to appeal the ruling.

Notwithstanding, the Opposition Leader has submitted a third batch of nominees for the President to consider for the post of the GECOM Chair. Harmon said the President is giving the matter careful consideration to ensure that the person selected is someone who is fit and proper for that job.

The third list includes: Major General Joseph Singh, Teni Housty, Sanjeev Datadin, Annette Arjoon-Martins, Onesi La Fleur, and Krishnadatt Persaud.

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