Constitutional provision relating to GECOM Chairman was passed with PNC support

Dear Editor,

We each have a responsibility to be truthful, especially when speaking in public. But Aubrey Norton, a public figure who was once General Secretary of the PNC, is as truthful as published election results were between 1968 and 1985 in his letter titled ‘Jagdeo and PPP laid basis to move away from Carter Formula and it has come back to haunt them’ (SN 11/11/17).

Every schoolchild knows that the Constitution was amended between 2000 and 2003 through constitutional reform coming out of the Herdmanston Accord. That reform was a representative process in which the two main parties were the major participants.

Article 161 of the Constitution which deals with the appointment of the Chairman of the Elections Commission cannot be amended by the President or by any political party. It can only be amended after a referendum or with the agreement of two-thirds of the members of the National Assembly. The President merely assents to the amending Bill after that process.

A quick search of the internet tells me that the National Assembly of the Seventh Parliament of Guyana between 1997 and 2001 was comprised of 36 elected members from the PPP/C, 25 elected members from the PNC, 2 elected members from the TUF, and 2 elected members from the AFG.

By my calculation, at least 43 elected members of the National Assembly needed to support amending Article 161 to allow the passage of the amending Bill but I recall, though I might be wrong, that the amendments to the Constitution at that time were agreed and passed with the approval of every elected member of the National Assembly.

Mr Norton was a member of the National Assembly that passed the Bill to amend Article 161 of the Constitution. Maybe in his next letter he can remind us how he voted.

Yours faithfully,

Kamal Ramkarran


Editor’s note: According to the SN report of April 11, 2000, all 48 members present in Parliament on April 10 voted in favour of the bill.

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