Former judge Winston Moore was yesterday sworn in as Ombudsman by President Donald Ramotar, bringing an end to an almost ten-year vacancy in the crucial constitutional office.
Moore took the oath of office during a simple ceremony at the Office of the President (OP) in the presence of Opposition Leader David Granger, Attorney General Anil Nandlall and a handful of members of the local bar and relatives.
In brief remarks moments after being sworn in, Moore said that staff to support the work of the office—
which has been a concern of the opposition—would not be an issue. He indicated that staffing has already been sorted out.
In addition, Moore noted that there are some misgivings about the office and how it functions. He said that after being considered for the position, he met first with Minister of Public Service Dr Jennifer Westford and several issues were discussed, including staffing.
Moore said he submitted a list of requirements and he explained that through the ministry, staff who worked previously at the Office of the Ombudsman were given the option to either stay where they were or return.
He said some of those persons chose to return.
In the light of this, he said, he has no misgivings about resources, which was all he was prepared to say at the moment.
Meanwhile, President Ramotar, in brief remarks said that constitutionally the country needs not only an Ombudsman but one that is effective.
He used the opportunity to express hope that members of the public take advantage of the fact that there is now an Ombudsman to whom they can take their issues and have them resolved.
The President said that in the meantime government is working to fill other constitutional posts that are vacant.
While extending well wishes to Moore, the President stressed that he would have the full support of government.
Government held consultations with the main opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) during which it was revealed that former judge had been selected to fill the vacant post. The Constitution states that the Ombudsman may investigate any action taken by any department of government or by the president, ministers, officers or members of such a department or authority being action taken in exercise of the administrative function of that department or authority.
APNU Member of Parliament Joe Harmon explained that since the Ombudsman is required to represent individuals where he/she finds that there is an imbalance between the citizen and the state, the opposition is hoping that government channels the necessary resources needed to make the office function effectively.
He said that both opposition parties have been pushing for the appointment of an Ombudsman for years and do not only want Justice Moore’s appointment to correct the failure to appoint an Ombudsman for an extended period but to also to allow him to be free to work according to the Constitution.
The Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc (TIGI) subsequently welcomed Moore’s appointment to the post which became vacant when another former judge, S Y Mohamed, demitted office in 2005.