President David Granger is likely to meet with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on a number of outstanding matters when he returns from Jamaica, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said yesterday.
“I suspect that when he gets back from Jamaica, at the CARICOM Heads of Govern-ment Conference, that, very shortly, he will undertake these things,” Harmon told reporters at a post-Cabinet press briefing.
Granger’s meeting with Jagdeo was heavily dependent on the National Assembly’s approval of those nominated to sit on the Police Service Commission and the Public Service Commission.
Among the things to be discussed by the two leaders are the appointments of a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice. The two had met on the judicial nominees previously but the talks are now at a standstill given Jagdeo’s decision not to accept those nominated by Granger.
The president was in official duties in Vietnam when the issue of the two commissions were dealt with by the National Assembly on June 25th. He did not call a meeting with Jagdeo and earlier this week he left Guyana for Jamaica. The conference ends today and he is expected to return to Guyana shortly after that.
Harmon was asked how soon the president is expected to meet with Jagdeo.
In his response, the Minister noted that while the president can function wherever he is, he had to meet with Jagdeo face to face to deal with the outstanding issues. “So, time and space is really not an issue with respect to the function of the president in his office but in fact the requirement to consult will require the president to be here to meet in person with the Leader of the Opposition,” he said.
According to Harmon, the appointment of the persons to the two commission will be dealt with shortly.
Retired assistant commissioners Paul Slowe, Clinton Conway, Vesta Adams and Claire Jarvis will sit on the Police Service Commission, while Vibert Bowman and Mortimer Livan will sit on the Public Service Commission.
“I cannot [say], I have to wait on Parliament for the nominations…As soon as the parliament completes its work I will ask the Leader of the Opposition to meet,” Granger had said on May 16th, when asked when he planned to meet with Jagdeo.
Granger informed that during the meeting, which he said would be held very soon, the reconstitution of the two commissions, the judicial nominees and the appointment of a Police Complaints Authority Chairperson would be on the agenda.
Meanwhile with regards to the appointment of a police commissioner, Harmon said that it is still being considered by Granger. “The matter is still being considered by His Excellency, the President, and as soon as he has completed his determination an appointment will be made,” he told reporters. He could not say if the candidates who were interviewed previously will undergo further screening before selection. “I can’t tell you that. I know that there was a process which was very transparent… Beyond that, I do not know if there are any additional requirements. I think right now it is for the president in his contemplation and once he is done, that, I believe, he will communicate to the Minister of Public Security and then the appointment will be made,” he said.
In April, Assistant Commissioners David Ramnarine, who is the acting Police Commis-sioner and considered the next in line for the top post, Clifton Hicken, Leslie James, Lyndon Alves, Marlon Chapman, Paul Williams, Nigel Hoppie and Maxine Graham were interviewed by a panel, which included the President and Ramjattan. The interview, which included a written component, was held at the Ministry of the Presidency.
Granger had said that the process of making the appointment could not be completed until Police Service Commission is appointed.
“Well, again, I have to resort to consultation with the Leader of the Opposition and the Chairman of the Public Service Commission also has to be appointed,” he said in May when asked how soon, the appointment can be made.
Concerns have been raised about the length of time it was taking for the appointment to be made, particularly since former Police Commissioner Seelall Persaud reached the age of retirement in February and the life of the PSC came to an end more than eight months ago.
Shortly before its life ended, the commission was instructed by the president to halt its considerations of police promotions. The names of several senior officers were noticeably absent from the list, which had been compiled by Persaud. Granger had justified his actions by stating that letters of complaints and an apparent compromised nomination process caused him to intervene.
Historically, the appointment has been based on seniority. Speculation is now rife about whether the president’s choice to replace Persaud will follow such a principle.
Under the Jagdeo administration, two assessments of the top four ranks of the force were done before Winston Felix was chosen and later appointed Police Commissioner in 2004.