RISE Guyana, which was formed earlier this year to push for constitutional reform, says it believes that President David Granger dismissed 18 nominees for the post of GECOM Chairman because he knew they would act independently and impartially.
In a statement on Saturday on the President’s unilateral naming of Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) after rejecting three lists from Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, RISE queried the President ‘s rationale for his actions.
“The question to be asked is why were these individuals overlooked by the President in the honest exercise of his Presidential discretion in reviewing the three lists presented one after the other by the Leader of the Opposition? RISE believes that the insulting dismissal of these candidates by the President is not because the candidates lacked integrity and independence, but specifically because they have integrity and could be relied upon to act in the high Office of Chairman of the Elections Commission with independence and impartiality. So why reject men and women of integrity? Is there not only one plausible answer?” the group queried.
It said that it believes that Civil Society must play a key role in selecting nominees for appointment as Chairman and Commissioners of the Elections Commission so as to depoliticize the process. This has been called for by other groups for a number of years. RISE said it will now advocate vigorously for this change in the upcoming constitutional reform process.
It argued that in rejecting the three lists of nominees, the President has run afoul of Justice Roxane George’s directive in a case brought by Marcel Gaskin that “in determining whether the list of persons is acceptable or not, the President is obliged to act reasonably, rationally and objectively and not capriciously and arbitrarily. He must objectively assess the ability of the person to discharge the functions of his office, their integrity, political impartiality and such like.”
RISE Guyana is a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), registered under the Companies Act 1991. There is a Board of six Directors: Ede Tyrell, Jainaraine Singh, Marcel Gaskin, Terrence Campbell, Remington Nelson and Wil Campbell.
It was established with the sole objective of pursuing constitutional reform and says it believes that constitutional reform is critical to achieving executive accountability, racial harmony and political, economic and social inclusivity.