President says no to overseas GECOM chair

President David Granger

THE suggestion by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo that there be a foreigner appointed as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has been deemed unnecessary by President David Granger.
On Thursday, the president on his weekly televised programme, ‘The Public Interest,’ said “I don’t think it is necessary, possible, I don’t think it is desirable.”
One week ago Jagdeo disclosed that he had proposed to President Granger amending of the constitution, which guides the selection of a GECOM chairperson, to “broaden the pool” of nominees to include non-Guyanese. He was at the time speaking at a public meeting in Enmore, East Coast Demerara (ECD) and also noted that one of the conditions of the Carter Center Formula is to have the chairman as someone who has deep knowledge in electoral matters. “Where are we going to find this person in Guyana?” he questioned and commented, especially people who are not political. “It’s almost impossible to meet that condition.
“We can search around the world, so my list can feature some of the best people from around the world,” he continued. However, President Granger made it clear that the Constitution of Guyana speaks clearly to the criteria of the nominees for selection for the post, while adding that those selected by Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, must conform entirely to the criteria set out in the Constitution.
The opposition leader has thus far submitted two lists which were deemed unacceptable by the President; he is expected to submit a third soon. “The Constitution requires the leader of the opposition to give me a list of six persons who are not unacceptable, and if he gives me a list of five persons, or four or three, it would be a breach of the constitution. He has to give me a list of 6,” said the President.

President Granger noted that he will not identify who the unacceptable nominees were, but noted that if the opposition leader submits a list of persons who do not all conform to the criteria, then his choice is being narrowed. “I have to have six names from whom to choose and if five of them are unqualified and are not considered to be fit and proper, then I have no choice… He drives me into picking one person and I won’t be driven… I need to have a choice of six; that’s what the constitution calls for.”
The Head-of-State told reporters that the opposition leader is well aware of the constitutional requirements and noted that Jagdeo requested of him a definition of his criteria; that was provided.

“He knows who he has put on the list,” Granger said, noting that the matter could have been settled weeks ago, but the two lists submitted to him were not in keeping with the Constitution.
The President made the point that the definition he provided the opposition leader is unchallenged. “So when the second list came, it was quite apparent, even a blind man could see, that the list could not conform to the criteria. We have now asked for a third list, I hope the third list conforms to the criteria so that I have six persons from whom to choose. I am not going to choose from one person,” he added.
Justice of Appeal BS Roy (ret’d); Justice William Ramlal (ret’d); Ms Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, attorney-at-law and a former magistrate; Mr Kashir Khan, attorney-at-law; Ms Nadia Sagar, attorney-at-law and Mr Gerald Gouveia were nominated by Jagdeo on the second list.

The first list comprised Indian Rights Activist Rhyaan Shah, Programme Manager, Social Cohesion Programme, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Lawrence Latchmansingh, Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram, Former Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Ramesh Dookhoo, retired Chief-of-Staff of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Norman McLean and Dr James Rose, a former PPP elections candidate.