President, Opposition Leader to consider 13 names for GECOM Chair
By Bibi Khatoon
The negotiating panel set up to “hammer out” the nominees for selection of a new Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission on Thursday decided to hand over the process to President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
After three meetings this week, the teams decided they will hand over 13 remaining names to the two leaders for them to decide on the final six nominees because the Opposition team felt that the process could not go further.
“We [the Opposition] felt at this stage it was not possible to go further in the discussions at this level and therefore it will be most appropriate that we hand over to the Leader of the Opposition and the President to meet directly,” Opposition Member Gail Teixeira told the media after Thursday’s meeting at Castellani House.
The engagements between the President’s representatives Joseph Harmon, Khemraj Ramjattan and Volda Lawrence along with Opposition team Gail Teixeira, Anil Nandlall and Bishop Juan Edghill began on Monday to consider 19 names.
Of those, eight were submitted by the President and eleven by the Opposition Leader.
While the Opposition felt that the process could not move further, Harmon, the Director-General at the Ministry of the Presidency, told reporters he was optimistic further discussions would have been productive.
“I just want to say that in our [Government] view…we believe that the engagement is still active and we do not agree it cannot bear fruit,” Harmon said, adding that the work of the panel can continue if so required by the leaders.
“We could have gotten a little further I believe,” Harmon noted.
He indicated that the two sides have considered the Opposition’s nominees and narrowed the list to five persons but the President’s list of eight persons was not considered.
In fact, Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan said the Government’s side feels cheated as a result of this.
“Literally they are dismissing the eight names to say whether that should be narrowed down further…that is not in good faith negotiations,” Ramjattan said.
“I felt very much in a way cheated by that,” the Minister added.
The Opposition Leader during a meeting with the President on July 4, 2019, said he will accept nominees from the President in accordance with the suggestion by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) that the process should be consensual.
Nandlall, who is an Attorney-at-law, argued that if the five opposition nominated names submitted to the President are found to be unacceptable then that defeats the entire purpose of the meetings over the past week.
“If the five names which have been shortlisted do not meet the acceptability of the President, then the rejected names by this committee cannot be conclusive either,” he argued.
The two sides have agreed not to disclose the names eliminated in the process or the reasons given for doing same.
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)
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)