Discussions on GECOM chair continue

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President David Granger (Adrian Narine photo)

…broad agreement reached: President Granger

The Government and the Opposition have reached a broad agreement following discussions today on the list of names for a candidate to be selected for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

President David Granger told members of the media this evening that although the process has not been completed, the two sides have arrived at an agreement.

The President was accompanied to the meeting at the Ministry of the Presidency with Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo by Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon. Mr Irfaan Ali accompanied the Leader of the Opposition to the forum.

Harmon told members of the media that the two sides agreed that from a list of five names which was shortlisted by a working group prior to today’s meeting, four names were deemed not acceptable by the President.

It was also agreed that as part of the “hammering out process” two names suggested by President as well as other names, will be discussed further during the meetings.

President Granger noted that he expected the process to make further progress even as he noted the work of the working group , representing both sides, to reduce the list from 18 names.

Harmon reiterated that the two sides will continue to engage each other in the process.

The two leaders last met on Thursday July 4, 2019 – a meeting which resulted in them agreeing to have their technical teams meet to “hammer out” the six names, but those meetings came to a halt after the Opposition’s team shifted the goalpost, and declined to consider any of the president’s nominees.

President Granger shortlisted two names from the list of eight he had earlier submitted, through the Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, to the Opposition Leader for his consideration. The President’s nominees are Attorney-at-Law Kesaundra Alves and Justice (Ret’d) Claudette La Bennett.

Last Friday, President Granger expressed a willingness to appoint a Chairman of the Elections Commission by Monday July 15, if the Opposition Leader acted in a consensual manner and in good faith.

But to date, the Opposition Leader has been sending mixed signals on the nominees proposed by him and the president. Outside the ongoing process, other Opposition figures have made public statements beyond the consensual discussions between the two sides.

These include a letter written by Attorney Anil Nandlall to Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield on Tuesday, requesting that the Commission starts making preparations for elections by September 18.

The President has stated on several occasions,prior to and after the recent ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), that a date for elections will be set when he is so advised by the chairman of GECOM.