Jagdeo to proceed with second list despite legal action

first_imgGECOM ChairmanshipOpposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo will proceed to submit his second list of nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) although a local businessman has moved to the courts to challenge the constitutionality of President David Granger’s rejection of the first batch of candidates.Jagdeo told reporters during a press conference at Freedom House on Thursday that he welcomed the legal proceedings and hoped they were treated as expeditiously as other court matters which Government had proclaimed were of national interest.The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has been deeply concerned about Government’s influence on the judiciary to fast-track certain cases which it claimed were of national importance.“I hope that the courts will treat this issue as expeditiously as they treated other matters when the Government claimed national interest was at stake,” Jagdeo, the PPP General Secretary, stated.Businessman Marcel Gaskin, the brother of Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who is the son-in-law of the President, wants the court to determine whether Jagdeo’s list of nominees was indeed not “fit and proper” as declared by Granger.Jagdeo remarked that had anyone else filed the legal proceedings, persons would have cried that the move was politically motivated.“I suspect if the person was someone else, they would say PPP put him up to it,” he stated.The Opposition Leader has long supported moving to the courts to seek an interpretation of the Constitution of Guyana in light of the difference of opinions regarding the appointment of a GECOM Chairman.Granger has maintained that the list of nominees must include a judge, a retired judge or a person qualified to be a judge. But Jagdeo has argued that the nominees do not have to be judge-type persons, as the Constitution makes provision for another group of persons under the category of “fit and proper”.Former GECOM Chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally is not a judge-type person and neither were most of the past chairpersons.Granger, who is a longstanding member of the People’s National Congress, had accepted the nomination to serve as GECOM Chairman several years ago.Jagdeo had nominated Attorney Christopher Ram, conflict resolution specialist Lawrence Lachmansingh, retired Major General Norman Mc Lean, business executive Ramesh Dookhoo, Indian rights activist Rhyaan Shah and History Professor James Rose.The search for a new GECOM Chairman has been a rollercoaster ride given the different interpretations of the Opposition Leader and the President on the relevant section of the Constitution of Guyana which outlines the selection process.Following weeks of impasse, Jagdeo finally agreed to return to the drawing board and submit a new list of nominees. However, the civil society groups which he has consulted with for recommendations for the post are finding it difficult to identify suitable persons in accordance to the President’s criteria.His conditions disqualify any type of activists and persons affiliated with political parties to be nominated for the post. “The President would have failed based on the criteria, because he was a member of the PNC when he was nominated,” Jagdeo observed.The Opposition Leader said he has since raised these concerns with the Head of State via correspondence dispatched on March 22. Nonetheless, the political leader said he was committed to submitting a fresh list of nominees.Jagdeo said he hoped President Granger did not reject the second list of nominees as the pool of suitable persons would get smaller and it would become more difficult to identify individuals for the post.Moreover, Jagdeo maintained that if the President moved to unilaterally appoint a GECOM Chairman, then such action would be illegal and could be challenged in the courts.Meanwhile, the case filed by Gaskin comes up before acting Chief Justice Roxane George next week. The respondents are Attorney General Basil Williams and the Opposition Leader.last_img read more