Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo foresees a ‘‘constitutional crisis” if President David Granger continues to delay the selection of the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Speaking to reporters at a press conference on Tuesday, Jagdeo said the President seems to have an ulterior motive for rejecting the two previous lists of names he submitted. He is nevertheless, still working on a third list.
On Monday, Jagdeo, who is also the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) met various stakeholders for further consultation on the submission of the third set of names for the President’s consideration.
According to him, “If he [President Granger] thinks he would delay the appointment of a chairman of GECOM just to get additional years in government, well he is wrong. The moment the constitutional period expires, we are going to have a constitutional crisis.” He added: “He is not going to find a compliant People’s Progressive Party agreeing to an extension of his term. And without the amendment to the constitution that will not happen…
There will be no budget, any agreement that the government signs as far as we are concerned, is illegal and so I hope we don’t get to that. …There will be consequences.”
He said that to “continue in office and have it be constitutional, both parties need to go to the National Assembly to convene it again because by a particular day, it stands dissolved.”
Without divulging details, he said he has had discussions with a number of people from the diplomatic community and they have expressed concerns about the manner in which the President is handling the selection of a chairman.
He said the delay had happened before under the late President Desmond Hoyte’s rule and that it was “wishful thinking” that it would happen again.
At that time, the PPP agreed to the two-year postponement of the elections after former US President, Jimmy Carter came to Guyana and brokered an arrangement because the list was found to be flawed.
The two lists of names of the GECOM Chairman he had submitted consisted of six names each and Jagdeo believes that based on their qualifications, they “fit the criteria of [being] fit and proper.”
After the first list was rejected, Jagdeo submitted a new list on May 2. This 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.
Several weeks later Granger announced that it was rejected and later invited Jagdeo to a meeting at State House to further discuss the matter. Following that meeting it was agreed that a third list of nominees would be submitted and that a high-level team will be established to explore all modalities for a resolution should this list be rejected.
The first list which was submitted on December 21, 2016, consisted of Chartered Accountant and lawyer Christopher Ram; business executive Ramesh Dookhoo; author, Indian rights activist and columnist Ryhaan Shah; historian Professor James Rose; governance and peace practitioner Lawrence Lachmansingh and former Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force and mining executive, Norman McLean.