Opposition fears President will make another unilateral appointment for GECOM Chair

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The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is concerned that President David Granger will again unilaterally appoint a Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Speaking at a press conference at the Opposition Leader’s Church Street, Georgetown Office on Monday evening, PPP Executive Member Gail Teixeira expressed concern about references made to the proviso in the Constitution of Guyana which allows the President to make a unilateral appointment.

“The President is continuing to repeat that he can still use the proviso…and in the meeting again today [Monday] they talk about proviso,” Teixeira said shortly after meeting with Government Ministers at Castellani House on the appointment of a new GECOM Chair.

“We are very concerned,” she added.

Article 161 (2) provides for the appointment of a Chairman from a list of six persons “not unacceptable to the president,” submitted by the Opposition Leader.

There is a proviso which provides for the President to appoint someone on his own if the Opposition Leader does not submit a list “as provided for.”

In 2017, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo submitted three lists of six persons each but they were all rejected and the President unilaterally appointed Justice (ret’d) James Patterson.

The Opposition challenged the President’s decision and the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) recently ruled that the process used by the President appoint Patterson was flawed and unconstitutional.

As such, Patterson was forced to demit office and the CCJ advised both the Government and the Opposition to meet and decide on a new list from which the President can choose a new Chairman.

Teixeira along with PPP members Anil Nandlall and Bishop Juan Edghill are representing the Opposition Leader on a panel set up to discuss the nominees for the post.

Representing the President are Ministers of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Director General at the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon.

Nandlall, who was also at the press conference, argued that the President cannot use the proviso while consultations are ongoing.

“Once the engagement commences, the proviso cannot be activated. That is the clear pronouncement from the Caribbean Court of Justice,” he said.

“That is exactly what he [Granger] did on the last occasion and that is precisely one of the flaws identified by the CCJ in the process.”

At the weekend, Jagdeo submitted his list of eleven persons for the post while the President on Monday submitted a list of eight persons to be considered.

The two sides are slated to meet again on Tuesday to decide on who gets on the final list which will be submitted to the President.

List of persons submitted by the Opposition:

Annette Arjoon-Martins – Environmentalist

B.S Roy – Justice of Appeal (ret’d)

Gerry Gouveia – Chairman, PSC

Joseph Singh – Major General (ret’d)

Kashir Khan – Attorney-at-law

Krishnadatt Persaud – former Senior Magistrate

Lawrence Latchmansingh – Human Rights & Conflict Resolution Consultant

Norman McLean – Major General (ret’d)

Ramesh Dookhoo –Former Chairman, PSC

William Ramlall – Puisne Judge (ret’d)

Onesi LaFleur

List of persons submitted by President Granger:

James Patterson – Justice (ret’d) and former Chairman of GECOM

Stanley Ming – Philanthropist/former PNCR Executive Member

Kessaundra Alves – Attorney-at-law, Chair – GPHC Board

Dr Aubrey Armstrong – Economist

Kadim Khan – former PNCR Executive Member

Kim Kyte-Thomas – Attorney-at-law/Former Solicitor General

Claudette LaBennett – Justice (ret’d)

Stanley Moore – Justice (ret’d)

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