CCJ calls for “urgency” in appointment of GECOM Chair

first_img…as Jagdeo proposes urgent meeting with GrangerThe Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has called on President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to act with “utmost urgency” in the appointment of a new Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).On Friday, the regional court handed down consequential orders on the matter as well as on the consolidated No-Confidence Motion cases. It had ruled on June 18, 2019 that the President’s unilateral appointment of then GECOM Chairman, (retrd) Justice James Patterson, was flawed and in breach of the Constitution. Days after that ruling, Justice Patterson stepped down.CCJ President Justice Adrian Saunders, in delivering the consequential orders on Friday, declared that it was “largely unnecessary” for the court to grant such orders, since Justice Patterson had already voluntarily resigned. As a matter of urgency, he urged that the two political leaders fast-track the process to appoint a new GECOM Chair.“It is now a matter of the greatest public importance that the President and the Leader of the Opposition should, as soon as possible, embark upon, and conclude, the process of appointing a new GECOM Chairman. This imperative is now of the utmost urgency in light of our decision in the no confidence motion cases that the motion was validly passed, thereby triggering the need for fresh general elections,” Justice Saunders stated.However, this call by the CCJ President comes at a time when there seems to be a stalemate on the process established to fast-track the appointment, since the Government side have been ambiguous on several aspects of the discussions. During a July 4, 2019 meeting between President Granger and Jagdeo, it was decided that representatives from the two sides would be appointed to “hammer out” a set of names in order to compile a list of six nominees to be submitted to the Head of State for selection of a new GECOM Chair.But after three engagements over the past week, the committee agreed on Thursday that the process should be returned to the two leaders, since progress was not being made. The Opposition representatives had explained that they were unable to get clarity from their Government counterparts on whether a reduced list of five names was acceptable by President Granger.Initially, during the informal process, the Opposition Leader had 11 names, but six were rejected and five were “shortlisted” during the engagements. The party then sought clarity on what is meant by “shortlisted”, and whether the feedback on the names was from the President or his representatives.After being promised those answers, at Thursday’s meeting, the Opposition said this was not done. In fact, it was noted that not only were the President’s representatives unable to definitively say whether or not those five “shortlisted” were acceptable to the President, but they could not say as well whether the eight names submitted to the Opposition Leader for consideration enjoy the confidence of the President.As such, at a press conference shortly after Friday’s CCJ hearing, Jagdeo told reporters that he is ready to meet again with the President on the matter. However, he lamented that the consultative process between the representatives was time-wasting.“Imagine… the President sends me eight names and say, ‘Can you consider these names?’ and then we’re told at the meeting — our representatives — that the eight names that the President sent, not all of them enjoy his confidence. How do you deal with that sort of things? It’s bizarre…“People don’t understand how hard it is to enter into these talks when there is no predictability, there is no principle, there is no good faith, there is nothing except a hodge-podge of, like, flimsy excuses and inconsistent positions, etc.,” the Opposition Leader stated.Meanwhile, President Granger, in a subsequent Address to the Nation, cognizant of the importance of the appointment of a new GECOM Chair, said “…it is clear that elections have to be held in the shortest possible time, and therefore it is crucial to appoint a chairman of the Elections Commission. This could be done as early as Monday, if the Opposition is prepared to act in a consensual manner and in good faith.”Jagdeo subsequently wrote the Head of State, proposing that they meet urgently. The Opposition Leader indicated to the President that he is available to meet at any time. He said he is will to meet over the weekend to work on a list of names for consideration for appointment to the Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution.last_img read more