There will be further problems between government and opposition

Dear Editor,

It seems to me that in the next few months and maybe years there will be problems with the David Granger administration and the opposition led by Bharrat Jagdeo. It is not a secret that the gap is widening and it appears that there might be no reasonable agreement in the near future. On Sunday President Granger announced that he had rejected the names of all six persons Jagdeo recommended to be Chairman of the Elections Commission, mainly because none of the was a former judge or someone eligible to hold high judicial office.

The President’s rejection brought comments from former Attorney General Anil Nandlall who said that it is not a legal requirement and pointed out that Steve Surujbally and other chairmen did not have such qualification.

The Red House fiasco is another major issue where the government and the opposition are at loggerheads and there is dissatisfaction in the opposition camp about the persons named to be Senior Counsel. It seems as if more problems lie ahead with the naming of a Chancellor and Chief Justice and other members of the Appellate Court.

According to reports Carl Singh who has been acting as head of the judiciary for more than 12 years will go into retirement in the next couple of months and Justice of Appeal B S Roy is also due to take his exit.

Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards is now acting Chief Justice, and it is not known whether she will be confirmed in that position or whether she might get the top spot, or whether Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire who was recently appointed Senior Counsel will be considered. The government-owned newspaper, the Chronicle carried a news report in which Attorney General Basil Williams stated that the replacement of the Chancellor is a matter for the President.

Under the Constitution (as amended), the Opposition Leader must agree to the appointment of the Chancellor and Chief Justice. If there is no agreement, the President’s nominee(s) will have to act. This will be unfortunate because Ian Chang acted as Chief Justice for more than a decade and retired without being confirmed.

The President will have to make a decision within weeks on who should take over as head of the judiciary because it seems that the outgoing Chancellor might not be given an extension given that the Chronicle carried an unsourced report that Chancellor Singh should not start new cases which he cannot complete before his retirement date.

Minister of Cohesion Amna Ally in outlining the Service Cohesion Strategic Plan in Parliament said the plan “will bring us one step closer to achieving an enabling environment where persons are willing to … replace confrontation with co-operation … [reduce] inequalities and promote greater tolerance and acceptance of mutual respect.”

Please let us have co-operation and understanding and strive towards our motto ‘One people, one nation, one destiny.’

Yours faithfully,

Oscar Ramjeet

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