Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo is to submit a third list of nominees for Chairman of Gecom to President David Granger and the two men yesterday agreed that a high-level team will be established to explore all modalities for a resolution should this list be rejected.
A joint statement by the two sides issued by the Ministry of the Presidency (MOTP) following the 6 pm meeting which was held at State House, said that upon an invitation from the President, Jagdeo and a team consisting of PPP/C MPs Anil Nandall and Irfaan Ali met with Granger and a team comprising Minister of State Joseph Harmon and Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman to consult on the way forward for the selection of a Gecom Chairman in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana.
According to the statement, the two parties agreed that it would be in the best interest of the people of Guyana that the choice of a Chairperson of Gecom is made “without undue delay”.
It was further agreed that the Leader of the Opposition will submit “a new list of six names to the President”. The statement did not state the timeframe in which Jagdeo is to submit what would now be his third list of nominees.
It was also agreed that a high-level team would be assembled “representing the President and the Leader of the Opposition which will begin to work immediately on exploring modalities to bring a resolution to this matter in the event that the list is rejected.” The statement provided no details on how soon this team will be assembled.
There was also no word on how the third list would be composed. Sources close to Jagdeo had said that a main point of discussion with the President at yesterday’s meeting would be to ascertain if any of the names of the 12 persons, submitted on the two rejected lists, met his stipulated criteria.
This is because the Opposition Leader wanted to evaluate “How many from the combined lists met the criteria since only then will we be in a position to know what he really wants so as to be guided,” one source pointed out.
The source explained that the President would have also been asked, if any of the 12 met his criteria, whether those names could be resubmitted with additional names to form the third pool.
Two Fridays ago it was revealed that Granger had rejected Jagdeo’s second list submitted on May 2. This list comprised retired judges BS Roy and William Ramlal, attorneys Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, Nadia Sagar and Kashir Khan and businessman Gerry Gouveia in keeping with certain criteria outlined by Granger. The first list comprising Christopher Ram, Ramesh Dookhoo, Ryhaan Shah, Professor James Rose, Lawrence Lachmansingh and Norman Mc Lean was rejected in January.
“I have examined the Curricula Vitae of the six persons in light of the criteria defined in my letter to you dated 2017.03.14. I have found the list to be ‘unacceptable’ within the meaning of the Constitution and of those criteria,” Granger stated in a letter to Jagdeo two Fridays ago.
According to a submission on the “Qualities of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Com-mission” that was sent by Granger to Jagdeo following the rejection of the first list, the candidate for the post should be a person who is qualified to be a High Court Judge and should have been an attorney for a minimum of seven years. It said that in the absence of candidates who do not meet these qualifications, “any other fit and proper person” should be appointed. In this regard, the statement specifies that such persons should have the following characteristics:
- “that person is deemed to have wide electoral knowledge, capable of handling electoral matters because he or she is qualified to exercise unlimited jurisdiction in civil matters
- That person will discharge his or her functions without fear or favour, that is he or she will not allow any person or organization to influence him or her to compromise his or her neutrality;
- That person will discharge his or her functions neutrally, between the two opposing parties as he or she would have done in court between two opposing litigants;
- That person will not be an activist in any form (gender, racial, religious etc.
- That person should not have any political affiliation or should not belong to any political party in any form, apparent or hidden;
- That person should have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness and diligence in the discharge of his or her duty as Chairman.”
A statement from the Ministry of the Presidency two Fridays ago had stated that Jagdeo must now submit a third list of nominees and Granger was quoted as saying that he was prepared to work with him for as long as it takes.
The ministry had said Granger made it clear that the list must include six persons, who are all qualified so that the choice is not limited. “Every member of the list suggested must conform to the criteria and you cannot put on the list, a person who does not conform… I must be given a choice. I don’t believe that the second list gave me the range of choice that the people of Guyana deserve,” he said.
The PPP/C had said that a lot of work had gone into the devising of the second list and it would be difficult to do this a third time.
The past chairman, Dr Steve Surujbally demitted office on February 28, 2017.