Recognising the gov’t is not a condition, it is a fact
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President, Dr. Irfaan Ali speaking at the handing over ceremony of the 50 SsangYong Musso pickups to the Guyana Police Force on Monday at the Police Sports Club Ground, Eve Leary, Georgetown
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali speaking at the handing over ceremony of the 50 SsangYong Musso pickups to the Guyana Police Force on Monday at the Police Sports Club Ground, Eve Leary, Georgetown

— says President on meeting with Opposition Leader

PRESIDENT, Dr. Irfaan Ali, has elucidated that for the Leader of the Opposition, Joseph Harmon, to meet with the Government of Guyana, it is a fact that he must first recognise who he is meeting with, before any such consultation occurs.

The President made the remarks at the sidelines of the handing over ceremony of the 50 SsangYong Musso pickups to the Guyana Police Force on Monday at the Police Sports Club Ground, Eve Leary, Georgetown, when asked by reporters about engaging the Opposition Leader on fulfilling constitutional obligations.

President Ali made it explicitly clear that he is committed to fulfilling his constitutional responsibilities which requires him to consult with the Leader of the Opposition, and he is ready to do so; however, Harmon must recognise the government.

“It’s not a condition, it’s a fact. If I want to talk to this gentleman and I don’t recognise him as someone in the media, then who am I talking to if I want to talk to him as a media personnel,” the President said while using an example to explain.

“So it’s not a condition, it’s recognition of the fact that he’s coming to the government, he is coming to have consultant with the elected President of Guyana,” he added.

For context, as mandated by Article 127 of the Constitution of Guyana, the Chancellor of the Judiciary and the Chief Justice can only be confirmed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of Leader of the Opposition.

Article 124 of the Constitution explicitly states that the Chancellor shall be the President of the Court of Appeal. The Chief Justice, on the other hand, is the President and most senior judge of the High Court.

The position of Chancellor is one of utmost importance, pursuant to Article 95 of the Constitution, during any period when the office of President is vacant the office shall be assumed by, the Prime Minister or if there is no Prime Minister, a minister as elected by Cabinet may assume the position. However, when there is no Cabinet, the Chancellor will act in the role.

In March 2018, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justice Roxane George were sworn in to perform the functions of acting Chancellor of the Judiciary and acting Chief Justice, respectively.

No Chancellor or Chief Justice has been confirmed in the positions since 2001; Justice Cummings-Edwards took up the mantle following the retirement of Justice Carl Singh, while Justice George was elevated to the post following the retirement of the late Justice, Ian Chang, SC.

President Ali said Harmon has to “recognise that he would be having consultation with the duly-elected government and the President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana”. This will pave the way for these confirmations, among other constitutional obligations which requires opposition consultation.

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