Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has written to President David Granger, requesting that he offers some clarity on his interpretation of the qualifications for the job of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
The President on Sunday announced that he found the six nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader to be “unacceptable” for the job based on the constitutional requirements. On Monday, he wrote to Mr. Jagdeo requesting that he submit a new list of nominees.
In his response today, the Opposition Leader said he needed clarity since based on statements he has seen in the press, the President may be of the opinion that only Judges or persons qualified to be Judges could land the job.
Jagdeo wrote, “I have also noted certain comments attributed to Your Excellency by the media made at a function held at State House on the 8th January, 2017, which tend to suggest that you apprehend Article 161(2) to require only persons who are Judges, qualified to be Judges, or former Judges of, either a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matter or, a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court. If those media reports accurately conveyed your views, then I am obliged to inform Your Excellency that my interpretation of Article 161(2) is different, in so far as, it also provides for, in addition to the category of persons to whom you have referred, “or any other fit and proper person”.
Jagdeo’s position mirrors the position of former Attorney General and the Opposition’s point man on Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall. In a Facebook post on Sunday, Mr. Nandlall made the same observation and criticized the President for not considering any of the Opposition Leader’s nominees for the job.
Today, Opposition Leader Jagdeo explained that “in the circumstances, I hereby request that Your Excellency clarify what you interpret the qualifications are of the persons to whom Article 161(2) of the Constitution refers. I am of the considered view that an urgent meeting will immeasurably assist in reconciling any differences of opinion which may exist on this issue.”
President David Granger did not offer any comment on the issue this afternoon when questioned by News Source. However, his Public Information team explained that he would be responding to the Opposition Leader’s letter and the media will be informed of that response.
Following the retirement of Elections Commission Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, the Opposition Leader, in keeping with the Constitution, submitted his six nominees to take over the post. However, the President appears to be leaning towards someone who may be a former Judge or qualified enough to be a Judge, in keeping with the same Constitution. The Constitution also allows the President to choose someone who he may deem fit and proper for the job.