The Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) has been without a Chairman for almost one year and consequently, its work is being stymied.
As I pointed out in an earlier letter on this subject matter, the selection and appointment of ‘a fit and proper person’ by the President to serve as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission must concern most Guyanese regardless of their political preference. The Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has to date presented to the President three lists of nominees arising out of extensive consultation with civil society for consideration, selection and appointment as Chairman of Gecom. The nominees of the first two lists were forthrightly rejected by the President while he is yet to make a determination with respect to the third list which he received from the Opposition Leader over one month ago.
It is befuddling that the President does not find on the three lists, one “fit and proper” Guyanese to perform the duties of Gecom Chairman. And this notwithstanding the fact that one of the nominees had performed duties of Gecom Chairman before; another would be considered a worthy recipient of one of Guyana’s highest national awards and the others would undoubtedly be considered by reasonable, honest Guyanese as decent, honest, mature, qualified candidates.
In the absence of any reasonable explanation by the President for his rejection of the names submitted to him by the Opposition Leader, we are left to attribute ulterior motives to his indecision or delayed decision. Indeed, many have concluded that only the person the President has in mind will be considered fit and proper by him.
But any unilateral appointment of the Gecom Chairman by the President could at best be considered a diabolic path and will in all probability seriously undermine and jeopardise democratic gains of the 1992 to 2015 era. Consider also that it would be the first time a list submitted by the opposition has been rejected and thus create a precedent that does not augur well for the future of democracy. With local government elections due by December 2018, national and regional elections in 2020 and with several deficiencies in relation to the commission’s operations yet to be rectified, there is concern that the commission will not have enough time to completely and adequately address these in time for these elections to be held.
The APNU+AFC government has not been performing well over the more than 2 years since the May 2015 elections period and there has been no indication that delivery of improved services and the good life is anywhere imminent. Very few of the dozens of commitments and promises made by the government in the pre-election campaign have been met or are close to being delivered. Even the expected oil revenues will not by themselves turn around the fortunes of Guyana in such a short period of time, having regard to the government’s poor financial management record and rising levels of corruption. We owe it to ourselves and our children to ensure our constitution is followed.