With the President and the Opposition still to find common ground over the qualifications for the Elections Commission Chairman job, the outgoing Chairman of GECOM, Dr. Steve Surujbally believes that whoever is chosen must be “fit and proper” for the job in keeping with the Constitutional requirements.
He said if that person comes with a legal background, it would prove to be even a bigger win for Elections Commission.
At a farewell press conference today, Dr. Surujbally offered his own interpretation of the requirements for the job in keeping with the Constitution.
Dr. Surujbally explained that that there are many Judges and Lawyers who he believes, are capable of taking on the job, but he is adamant that the crucial words in the Constitutional requirements would be “fit and proper”
He said in his opinion the best person ever would be a Judge who also fits the criteria of being “fit and proper”.
President David Granger turned down the initial list of nominees submitted to him by the Opposition Leader, pointing out that he did not find the nominees to be “fit and proper for the post”.
Article 161 (2) of the Constitution states that, “The Chairman of the Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or who has held office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth, or a court having jurisdictions in appeals from any such court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge, or any other fit and proper person”.
The President believes that the person should be a Judge, former Judge or should be qualified to be a Judge even if that person is “fit and proper”. The Opposition Leader believes once the person is “fit and proper” for the job, the person should be hired.
The outgoing GECOM Chairman, today said that the focus of framers of the law was intended for that person to be a Judge.
Dr. Surujbally feels the process of appointing a GECOM Chairman should not be taking as long as it is currently taking. He, however, added that it is a message that the next General Elections which are coming in 2020 will be very serious, “and what results come out of that is of such great gravitas that people are positioning themselves and taking a long time, they want their Chairman”.
Legal representatives for the President and the Leader of the Opposition have been meeting to offer their own interpretation of the Constitutional requirements. They have not been able to arrive at an agreement.
If the Opposition Leader fails to submit an acceptable list to the President with nominees, then the President could move ahead and appoint a Chairman of his choosing in keeping with the Constitutional requirements. (Handel Duncan)