President David Granger yesterday said that he is “critically” examining the third list of nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) which was submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo last Friday.
Speaking to reporters shortly after receiving the final report of the Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the alleged assassination plot against him and the police’s handling of the matter, he said that he has informed Jagdeo that he has received the list.
Asked how soon a decision may be forthcoming, Granger said “I don’t make these decisions without advice and I will discuss this matter with my colleagues. It certainly will not be before the next cabinet meeting which will be held on Tuesday (next)”, he said.
Jagdeo’s newest list comprises Joe Singh, a retired Guyana Defence Force Major General who once held the very post in 2001; former long-serving magistrate Krisndat Persaud; attorneys Teni Housty and Sanjeev Datadin; pilot and biodiversity advocate Annette Arjoon-Martins; and Adventist pastor and agriculturalist Onesi La Fleur. Singh is heavily favoured, sources say.
The post has been sitting vacant since February, when long-serving Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally resigned. Surujbally held that position for 15 years.
President Granger has rejected Jagdeo’s two previous lists, saying that the six nominees on each list did not meet the criteria to be appointed Chairman.
Article 161 (2) of the Constitution states: “Subject to the provisions of paragraph (4), the Chairman of the Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or who has held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge, or any other fit and proper person, to be appointed by the President from a list of six persons, not unacceptable to the President, submitted by the Leader of the Opposition after meaningful consultation with the non-governmental political parties represented in the National Assembly.”
The nominees on Jagdeo’s first list, submitted in December last year, were Major General (ret’d) Norman McLean; Attorney and Chartered Accountant Christopher Ram; Business Executive Ramesh Dookhoo; Governance and Conflict Resolution Specialist Lawrence Lachmansingh; Indian Rights Activist Ryhaan Shah; and History Professor Dr James Rose.
After Granger rejected the first list, Jagdeo nominated former appellate judge B S Roy, former High Court Justice William Ramlal, former magistrate and now practising attorney Oneidge Walrond-Allicock, attorneys Kashir Khan and Nadia Sagar and former Guyana Defence Force Captain and businessman Gerald Gouveia for the post.
At a subsequent meeting, Granger and Jagdeo agreed on the submission of a third list.
In a press statement about the third submission, Jagdeo referred to the previous rejections as well as a subsequent meeting with the President at State House on June 12, 2017, where it was agreed that a high-level exploratory committee would be established to ensure a selection if a third list was rejected. He explained that though the committee was never activated by the government, he went ahead with “… elaborate and protracted consultations which lasted several weeks with various stakeholders.”
Jagdeo said that during this process he solicited views and sought nominations in efforts to ensure that six names who satisfy the requirements contemplated by Article 161(2) of the Constitution were submitted to the president.
On Monday, Jagdeo had told Stabroek News that while he wants the matter dealt with quickly he is prepared to give the president time to respond to his list.
He said that he was “hopeful” that this will be the final list he has to submit.