President Bharrat Jagdeo says Opposition Leader Robert Corbin has been consulted on all members of the Integrity Commission.
Nearly a week after Corbin announced that he was asked to consult on the two vacancies, including the Chairmanship of the Commission, Jagdeo said he hoped the process would not turn into a fiasco. He noted that Corbin asked for resumes for two new nominees James Rose and Savatri Sukhai as well as current members Fazeel Ferouz and Rev. Nigel Hazel. Rose and Sukhai have been proposed by the government to fill vacancies created by the resignation of former Chairman Bishop Randolph George and Pandit Rabindranuth Persaud.
The President added that Corbin does not have to agree on the nominees but hoped for a response indicating his position on them. “So I can move forward,” Jagdeo said. “But if he does not, there is a limit to consultation.”
Corbin said last week that if filling two vacancies is the only process the government is engaged in, then there would only be two “legitimate” members of the Commission and he urged the government to consider a new process of consultation to reconstitute the entire body.
PNCR Executive Lance Carberry yesterday said Corbin has not yet received any information on the nominees. Carberry, who attended the consultation with Corbin, explained that while Corbin had been written to participate in consultations to “reconstitute” the Commission last week, the names of the two new nominees were mentioned during the meeting with Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, who was performing the duties of President at the time. Carberry said Corbin asked for the resumes of all of the members.
“The point is that until such time as the govt responds to our requests for the CVs of all of the members, we are not able to say that they are not prepared to consult on all the members,” he said, adding that Corbin could only hold the government to the significance of the word “reconstitute,” which implied all members would be considered.
Carberry added that Corbin had spoken with other members of the parliamentary opposition on the consultations. Meanwhile, he added that implementation of the recommendations made by the Bradford consultancy group on the Commission would lead to a strengthening of its capabilities and capacity of the body. Bradford & Associates had submitted 11 specific recommendations, which the Government of Guyana had indicated to the World Bank it would adopt, and went as far as submitting an Action Plan for implementation of these recommendations in 2006. Carberry was critical of the government for not acting on the recommendations.
The government and the opposition have been at odds over the commission and its membership after President Jagdeo issued a public ultimatum to Members of Parliament (MPs) to submit declarations of their assets and liabilities or face public outings and criminal charges if found in default.
Both the PNCR and the AFC accused the president of trying to usurp the authority of the commission, which has been in virtual limbo since as a result of the dispute over the legal tenure of its members. The PNCR has taken a position centred on its challenge to the commission’s legality and the party’s executive has instructed its MPs against submitting declarations until a decision.
Meanwhile, the AFC has said its MPs have begun receiving packages from the Integrity Com-mission in the proper manner, and as before, would be submitting their declarations accordingly.