‘Courts cannot be paralysed by Opposition Leader’s decision’- President
President David Granger says he is awaiting the advice of the Minister of Legal Affairs and Attorney General on the way forward as it relates to the substantive appointment of the Chancellor and Chief Justice.
However, the Head of State made it clear that the “courts cannot be paralysed by the behaviour of one person.”
He was referring to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, who rejected the nomination of Justice Kenneth Benjamin and Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards as the Chancellor and Chief Justice, respectively. Jagdeo announced his rejection on February 07, 2018 after several weeks of due diligence.
At the sidelines of an event at State House on Wednesday, the President said he was disappointed at the outcome having waited one month for the Opposition Leader’s approval.
“We cannot be without a Chancellor and a Chief Justice – right now two persons are acting and I had hoped that we could have moved forward by having a substantive or full-time appointment agreed but this has not happened,” Mr Granger told reporters.
He noted that while the Constitution requires that he awaits the approval of the Leader of the Opposition, he will depend on legal advice and make sure the courts continue to function.
“It is not desirable to continue the current practice of acting which existed for several years and I would like to have a substantive appointment. It’s a question of necessity,” the Head of State said.
President Granger and Mr Jagdeo initially met on January 3, 2018, to discuss the substantive appointment of the Chancellor and Chief Justice.
At that meeting, Jagdeo indicated he needed some time to do the due diligence of the nominees and the parties were scheduled to meet again on February 7, 2018, but the Opposition Leader did not show up and instead issued a statement announcing his rejection of the nominees.
In a statement to the media, Jagdeo’s office explained that they did not receive confirmation that the meeting was still on – as is usually the practice, but the Ministry of the Presidency released photos in which the Head of State was flanked by Attorney General Basil Williams and State Minister Joseph Harmon seated at a table opposite empty chairs where the opposition delegation was expected to be seated.