A Caribbean jurist of Guyanese descent has been nominated for the substantive post of Chancellor, President David Granger confirmed on Wednesday and he said he is presently awaiting a response from him before he schedules a meeting with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
“Right now, he has been written to… once I receive a response from the person, who has been nominated by the panel, I will have a meeting with [Jagdeo],” Granger said, when asked for an update on the appointment.
In January, government invited persons to apply for the post and some concerns have been expressed at the length of time that has passed without the appointment being settled.
A panel comprising retired justices Claudette Singh and James Patterson along with former University of Guyana Vice-Chancellor Harold Lutchman was set up to review the applications received and recommend a candidate to Granger for the post of Chancellor as well as that of Chief Justice.
Acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edwards was elevated to the post following the retirement of Justice Carl Singh in February. With her elevation, Justice Roxane George SC was also appointed as acting Chief Justice.
Speaking to reporters at State House, Granger said after previously failing to reach a decision on a list of recommendations, he had proposed to the then president Donald Ramotar that a search be done within the Anglophone Caribbean for a suitable candidate for the post of Chancellor.
“That search has been done. It has been completed and some recommendations have been made and I have written to the person who was recommended, a person of Guyanese descent,” he said.
Though he did not name him, Stabroek News was reliably informed that the nominee is a jurist, who holds a high-ranking judicial post in a Caricom member state. The jurist has a career spanning approximately 40 years.
This newspaper was also told that another Caribbean jurist, who is also Guyanese by birth, was initially being considered. This jurist is an appellate judge, has held a number of other positions during an approximately 30-year-long career and has worked in at least two Caricom member states.
A nominee has also been identified for the substantive post of Chief Justice. While there are no available details on who this persons is, this newspaper was previously told that a well-known High Court judge is among the applicants.
Granger made it clear that no one has yet been chosen for either post and he will only be making a recommendation to the Leader of the Opposition.
Under Article 127(1) of the Constitution, the President needs to obtain the agreement of the Opposition Leader before appointing the Chancellor and Chief Justice.
The appointments of Justices Cummings-Edwards and George to act in the respective posts came after Jagdeo agreed to forego formalities since Granger was preparing to leave the country on official business and the judiciary was without a head, as Justice Singh had retired days earlier.
A release that was issued from Jagdeo’s office on March 1 stated that during a meeting with the President, Jagdeo indicated that he would not insist on the formalities of a letter accompanied by the names of the President’s nominees along with curriculum vitae, “as is the practice which has evolved… in keeping with the letter and spirit of the Constitution.” Jagdeo indicated that his reason for dispensing with formality was because filling the vacancy was of national importance and the President’s departure for overseas was imminent.
The president had proposed Justice Cummings-Edwards, who was then performing the functions of Chief Justice, to act in the position of Chancellor and Justice George to act in the office of Chief Justice. Jagdeo informed the President that he required one week to offer his views on those proposals. This did not find favour with the President and he went ahead with the acting appointments. The two sides have not discussed the matter since.