President shortlists Attorney Alves, Justice La Bennet ‘out of the blue’ – Jagdeo

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As the impasse continues over the appointment of a new chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has accused the President of delaying the matter, now shortlisting two persons from the list of eight he earlier suggested.

At the weekend, the Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon informed the Opposition Leader’s office that the President had shortlisted Attorney Kesaundra Alves and Justice Claudette La Bennett from a previous list of eight he had suggested.

The correspondence came as a surprise to the Opposition Leader.

Following the orders by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) last Friday, the President said he was prepared to appoint a new chairman of the elections Commission by today.

The Opposition Leader wrote the President immediately after his address to the nation Friday afternoon to say he was prepared to work through the weekend to achieve the objective.

But the President’s office replied with the suggestion of the two names.

“So, he did not respond to our request for a meeting and to say we are available to meet throughout the weekend.

“Suddenly we receive this letter that we must consider these two names from the list of eight names that they had submitted before,” Jagdeo said at a press conference Monday afternoon.

President Granger meets with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on January 9, 2019. [Ministry of the Presidency photo]
The Opposition Leader then sought clarification of whether the informal process of face to face meetings had ended, and he spoke with Mr Harmon directly, who said no, and that the President was interested in a face to face meeting.

But up to his afternoon news conference Monday, there was no meeting scheduled.

“So, the President can’t want to claim urgency, and he is prepared to make an appointment by Monday and then have his minions declare that they still want the consensual process to move forward, issue a press release to that effect, and then not be prepared to meet,” Jagdeo declared.

There has been no clarification of whether the names submitted by the Opposition Leader are acceptable to the President.

The Opposition Leader called out the President for accusing him of not wanting a consensual process.

This is what the President said last Friday: “It is unfortunate that, despite the meetings between the two sides, the Leader of the Opposition rejected the idea of acting in a consensual manner. He chose to put forward candidates for the post who have been rejected previously.”

But this is what the President said on July 4.

“If I could add, the Director-General was quite clear, the Leader of the Opposition is free to submit the names which have already been submitted in the three previous iterations and he has agreed to confirm that those persons are still willing to have their names forwarded so the names submitted before are not eliminated.”

The talks between the two sides broke down last Thursday with the opposition saying it could get no clear indication from the government of which names the President definitely has no problems with.

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