The letter sent by Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira, on behalf of Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, to President David Granger through Director General of the Ministry of Presidency, Joseph Harmon …President says actions in keeping with agreements made …restates commitment to holding credible elections as soon as possible ALTHOUGH the President and the opposition leader previously came to an agreement, in keeping with Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) ruling on how a list of six names for the selection of a new Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chair will be “hammered out”, there is still some amount of misunderstanding present.
Pedro Enrique Loyo Diaz
On Tuesday, in a message to the nation, President David Granger outlined the agreement made between him and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, to show that his actions during recent deliberations have been in “good faith”.
Following the June 18, 2019 CCJ ruling on the no-confidence motion and the appointment of the GECOM Chair, the court had instructed involved parties to meet and discuss eligible candidates for the post of GECOM Chair before a formal submission of six names is made to the President. The CCJ had explained that this would enable the two sides to agree on an eligible list of six persons who are “not unacceptable” to the President prior to his ultimate selection of one individual.
Pedro Loyo Diaz
“The court believes that such an approach would give the President a role in the identification of the six names. It would also obviate the possibility that, after the formal presentation of the list, the President could suggest that one or more of the names, or indeed the entire list, is unacceptable,” President Granger explained
It is clear, as stated within the Constitution, that the list of six is to be submitted by the leader of the opposition. The President indicated that when he initially met with the opposition leader on July 4, 2019, their discussions centred on the means of selecting a new GECOM Chair in accordance with the CCJ judgement. “The meeting aimed to reach consensus on the way forward for the nomination and appointment of the GECOM Chairman. It was agreed that the leader of the opposition would submit, a list of names of persons for my consideration. That list was submitted
Ms. Gail Teixeira, acting on behalf of the leader of the opposition, wrote Mr. Joseph Harmon, Director General, Ministry of the Presidency on the June 28, 2019 saying: ‘the Leader of the Opposition is not averse to the President informally suggesting names in their proposed engagement for his consideration’,” the President relayed
As such, the opposition leader, on July 6, 2019, re-submitted 11 names to the Ministry of the Presidency for consideration from three previously submitted lists totalling 18 persons. These included: Conservationist, Annette Arjoon-Martins; retired Justice of Appeal, B.S Roy; Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Gerry Gouveia; retired Mayor General, Joseph Singh; Attorney-at-Law, Kashir Khan; former Senior Magistrate, Krishnadatt Persaud; conflict resolution specialist, Lawrence Latchmansingh; retired Major General, Norman McLean; Onesi La Fleur, PSC executive Ramesh Dookhoo; and retired Puisne Judge, William Ramlall
When representatives of the government and the opposition met on July 8, 2019, in-keeping with the option given by the opposition for him to informally suggest names, President suggested a list of eight individuals for the GECOM post. These were: Justice (Ret’d) Stanley Moore; Justice (Ret’d) Claudette La Bennett; former Solicitor General, Kim Kyte; Economist, Dr. Aubrey Armstrong; Chairperson of the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC), Attorney Kesaundra Alves and businessmen Kads Khan and Stanley Ming.
Representing the opposition leader were Attorney-at-Law, Anil Nandlall; Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira and Opposition Member of Parliament, Bishop Juan Edghill. Representing the President were Director General of the Ministry of Presidency, Joseph Harmon; Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan. “Both sides agreed to establish a joint working group which would short-list the names to six and present the list to the leader of the opposition before it is presented to me
It was also agreed that the exchange of names, or this submission of names, will include also suggestions which the President presented for inclusion on that list. I said it was up to the leader of the opposition to submit the names of persons who had already been submitted on the previous three lists,” President Granger stated, further affirming: “The government’s side is adhering to the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice and to the agreement with the leader of the opposition.”
He said the misunderstanding comes as some parts of the media have reported that, following the meeting and the President’s suggestion of eight names, the opposition representatives accused the President breaching the initial agreement
In a press briefing on the evening of July 8, 2019, the opposition representatives expressed surprise that the President had submitted a list of names for consideration. They are in favour of the list of 11 submitted by the opposition leader being “hammered out” first
“It was our clear understanding that we were going there to consider those 11 names and for the government to indicate or rather the President’s…delegates in that engagement, to tell us which of the 11 names the president finds find acceptable and which he does not find acceptable. Low and below when we get there we are confronted with a list from the government side,” Nandlall complained
GOOD FAITH ENGAGEMENT However, the President has maintained that his actions are in keeping with previous agreements made
He assured citizens that all of his actions are geared towards “good faith” engagements which will eventually give way to the selection of the GECOM Chair the holding of credible elections in the shortest possible time. “The Government of Guyana is intent on ensuring the conduct of credible elections at the earliest possible date
To achieve this, it is pursuing the full implementation of the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the early selection of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission,” the President assured:
“The government side remains committed to continuing the dialogue and concluding the selection process within days to enable the Elections Commission to function. Once done, Guyanese can expect credible elections in the shortest possible time. The President, acting on the advice of the Elections Commission that it is ready to conduct elections, will proclaim a date for those elections. This necessitates the Chairman of GECOM being in place as early as possible.”
The next court date with the CCJ has been set for July 12, 2019 when the court will make Consequential Orders on the written submissions of the involved parties on both the cases of the GECOM Chair and no-confidence vote. The CCJ has urged the two political heads to meet and find common ground on the way forward on these matters