Jagdeo will not give reasons for rejecting Judicial nominees


Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo says he will not proffer reasons why he rejected the President’s nominees for the posts of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, noting that he does not want to drag their names through the mud.

On Wednesday, following several weeks of due diligence, Jagdeo rejected the nomination of Justice Kenneth Benjamin and Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards as the Chancellor and Chief Justice, respectively.

Jagdeo made his intentions known via a letter to the President, after he, Jagdeo, did not turn up to a meeting with the Head of State, on the grounds that the Ministry of the Presidency did not confirm the time of the meeting.

At a news conference at his Church Street, Georgetown office on Thursday, the former President said, “If required in sometime in the future, I can provide reasons, I chose not to do so in the letter and I will choose not to do so today, again, because I’m not in the business of judging people in the public domain and these are two distinguished individuals who have had long careers in the judiciary and I, therefore, don’t want…like what the President [David Granger] did with the 18 [GECOM] nominees, drag people’s names through the mud…if required to do so at some point in time, at a forum that is appropriate, I will do so.”

Jagdeo said he is prepared to meet with the President in order to reach an agreement on the way forward. The substantive appointments of these positions cannot be made without the agreement of 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.

Justice Benjamin came under scrutiny by the Belize Bar Association in September 2017, when the Bar passed a resolution calling on him to deliver delayed judgments for 32 cases that he has heard but on which he has not yet issued a ruling, a Belize online media outfit reported.

The Bar Association had also threatened to file for Justice Benjamin’s removal from office for misconduct.

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