Gov’t ready to engage on appointment of Chancellor, Chief Justice – AG Nandlall
By Kurt Campbell
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall on Thursday said it is regrettable that Guyana remains without a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice because of lack of consultation and consensus between the President and Leader of the Opposition.
This has been the case during the last three presidencies in Guyana after a constitutional amendment was made to allow the two top judicial office holders to be appointed substantively by the President after obtaining the agreement of the Opposition Leader.
Nandlall said it was absolutely not intended by the framers of the constitution for the two top posts in Guyana’s judiciary not to be occupied by confirmed appointees.
“I say that it is regrettable since the constitution has been amended to effect that change and we have never had it filled,” Nandlall told reporters Thursday evening at the sidelines of an event held at the EU Ambassador’s residence.
The AG said given the impasse over the appointments for so many years, it may be time that the constitutional requirement is revisited to remove the provisions for consultation.
Since the amendment was made to the constitution in 2001, no Chancellor or Chief Justice has been confirmed in the positions.
Currently, Justice Yonette Cummings Edwards is performing the duties of Chancellor and Justice Roxane George is performing the duties of the Chief Justice.
They were both appointed by former President David Granger in 2017. Failure by Opposition Leader, Joseph Harmon to recognise President Irfaan Ali as legitimately elected has prevented any form of consultation.
Nandlall said Harmon must change his “bizarre position” and recognise President Ali before any consultation on this and other matters.
While the Attorney General noted the government’s interest in appointing substantive persons to the positions, he did not confirm whether the two females will be confirmed.
Former Chancellor, Carl Singh and Chief Justice Ian Chang both acted in the position for years amid failed attempts by former President Donald Ramotar and David Granger to reach consensus on confirming them.
Guyana’s last substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary was Justice Desiree Bernard. She served until 2005 and was in position before the constitution was amended.
The procedures for the appointment of Chancellor and Chief Justice are outlined in Article 127 (1) and (2) of the Constitution of Guyana.
Article 127 (1) states: “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition”.