New GECOM Chair: ‘Jagdeo can’t just throw six names to the President’ – Ramjattan

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Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan says many persons are of the view that the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo can immediately submit six nominees for the next GECOM Chair to the President but this is not the case.

Speaking with the media on Wednesday, Ramjattan said his party – the Alliance For Change (AFC) – supports the consensual approach recommended by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to be used to select the new GECOM head.

“It is not as if the Leader of the Opposition can go and put six names into the hands of the President. They must meet and they can deliberate on six names that are acceptable to the President and from those six, he can select one.”

“It is very important, a lot of people feel he can just throw six names and the President will have to give reasons why he don’t like them,” Ramjattan said.

Former Chair of GECOM, Justice (ret’d) James Patterson demitted office on Monday, June 24, one week after the CCJ ruled that the process by which he was appointed was “flawed.”

The retired Judge was unilaterally appointed by the President in 2017 after he rejected 18 names submitted by the Opposition Leader in accordance with the Constitution of Guyana.

James Patterson

President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders in delivering his ruling on June 18 suggested that the President and Opposition Leader meet and deliberate on the names before they are formally submitted –a process which Ramjattan said the AFC fully supports.

“I think that is extraordinarily a progressive move and so that should be abided by as the consensual approach,” Ramjattan told the media.

However, if this fails to bear fruit, Ramjattan said: “certainly the President will then utilise the proviso.”

The proviso of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana allows for the appointment to be made unilaterally, where the opposition leader fails to submit a list “as provided for.”

The AFC in a statement on Tuesday said the process to appoint the new chair should be done within two weeks.

“The Party now believes that the process of appointing a new Chairman should be undertaken with the utmost urgency and concluded within two weeks,” the statement noted.

Further, the AFC expressed the view that this process is critical to public confidence in the outcome of the next General and Regional Elections “and that there is no shortage of fit and proper Guyanese persons acceptable across the political divide to fill this position.”

The Opposition Leader has sent a letter to President David Granger, announcing his availability to meet on the appointment of a new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Jagdeo in the letter dated June 25th, said he is prepared to meet with the President at any time, and, on a daily basis if needs be, to address the new appointment.

The Opposition Leader’s letter came days after the President invited him to a meeting to discuss the current political situation.

The CCJ gave both sides until July 1st to present written submissions on what consequential orders should be taken.

On July 12th the court will issue those orders on the way forward.

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