President agrees to start process to appoint new Gecom Chairman

President David Granger has signalled to Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo that the process to find a new Guyana Elections Com-mission (Gecom) Chair-man should begin.

This is according to Minister of State Joseph Harmon, who told a post-Cabinet press briefing yesterday that the president wrote Jagdeo.

“Well, basically, the letter was asking that we commence the process and I think… the president would have said to him, ‘Yes, we are prepared to commence the process’ and, therefore, he [Jagdeo] must know what he has to do,” he told reporters.

According to Harmon, government received a letter, signed by Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira, indicating that Jagdeo was ready to commence the process to appoint a Gecom chairman.

A copy of her letter to Harmon, dated November 15, 2016, was released last Saturday by the Office of the Opposition Leader.

In the letter, Teixeira noted that Surujbally, who has served as Chairman since 2001, has formally indicated to Jagdeo that his resignation would take effect from November 30, 2016.

“In the light of this development and the fast approaching deadline, l am writing you, on behalf of the Leader of the Opposi-tion, seeking to be advised on the approach His Excellency President David Granger[’s] Govern-ment intends to take in filling the vacancy as provided for in Article 161 of the Guyana Constitution,” she wrote.

She said Jagdeo specifically wishes to be inform-ed whether the President will formally write to him inviting him to submit his six nominees, as required by Article 161 or whether the President will initiate a preliminary formal meeting with him to discuss the appointment of the new Chairman.

“Yes, the president has responded to the letter from the Leader of the Opposition and I suppose in a short space of time, based on the law itself, the Leader of the Opposition would be required to submit a list of names from among which the president will make a choice,” he said.

Harmon noted that if the president has an objection, “the names will not go forward and he [Jagdeo] may have to come back with another set. There is a process which requires the president’s eventual agreement with the names submitted by the Leader of the Opposition.”

Jagdeo last week voiced concerns that the process to select a replacement for Surujbally had not been initiated, while the date of Surujbally’s exit was fast approaching.

“Given the necessity of having a fully comprised commission at all points in time, given that the work of the commission is critical in the preparation for the next elections, I have not received any indication from the President when he intends to trigger that provision. Now this is very worrying for us given the slothfulness in this government and its incompetence and the sensitivity surrounding Gecom,” he told a news conference last Wednesday.

Jagdeo also reported that the PPP/C has already started considering nominees for the post.

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