Granger, Jagdeo to meet on nomination of Justice Benjamin as Chancellor
President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo are expected to meet sometime next week to discuss the nomination of Justice Kenneth Benjamin, the current Chief Justice of Belize, as the new Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana.
Justice Benjamin is tipped to be appointed as the substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary of Guyana while the acting Chancellor Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards is recommended to resume the role of the substantive Chief Justice.
This was revealed by Jagdeo who disclosed that he has received a letter from the Head of State requesting a meeting to discuss these nominations.
“A letter was sent to me from the President nominating Justice Benjamin for the post of the chancellor and Justice Cummings for the post of the Chief Justice. A meeting should have been held today but I said to the Office of the President that I am busy today (December 29, 2017) so we are trying to schedule that meeting for next week before I leave for the January 3, 2017,” Jagdeo stated.
Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, who was on a panel of parliamentarians at the press conference, questioned President Granger’s haste to make these substantive appointments.
“The Judiciary has ruled on three cases so far that the President has violated the Constitution. No actions have been taken to correct these actions by the President and this may be the reason for the haste in appointing a new chancellor and chief justice to ensure there is a more malleable and compliant judiciary that the government can control,” Teixeira said.
Opposition Parliamentarian and Attorney at Law Priya Manickchand reminded that the process of these appointments involves a consensus of the President and the Opposition Leader.
Justice Benjamin was nominated for the post by a committee which was put together by the President and his Attorney General Basil Williams.
Should Justice Benjamin be appointed Chancellor and Justice Cummings-Edwards be appointed Chief Justice then the current acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire may be demoted to a judge.
The substantive appointments of these positions cannot be made without the agreement of the opposition leader.
Article 127 of the Constitution says “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”
Recently, the President of the Caribbean Court of Justice Sir Dennis Byron expressed concerns that since former Chancellor Desiree Bernard demitted office in 2005, agreement has not been reached on a substantive appointment of a chancellor.