President David Granger believes that persons who are nominated for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission should have the qualities of what is expected of a Judge, if they are not qualified to be a Judge or has never served as a Judge.
During a recording of the weekly, “Public Interest” television programme, the President noted that the Constitution is very clear on the required qualifications for the post.
He said it is obvious that what the drafters of the document had in mind was someone who had arrived at the position of a judge, as it is expected that person would have been someone, who possesses the qualities of impartiality, integrity and intelligence. The President added that any fit or proper person must approximate those qualities that characterise what is expected of a judge.
“I am going to choose somebody, who is fit to be a judge and who can discharge the functions of Office of Chairman of the Elections Commission with impartiality, with integrity and with intelligence. Fit and proper means you have to possess those three qualities,” President Granger said, adding that “The Constitution is clear that once the Leader of the Opposition fails to submit a list of persons, who are not unacceptable, I will have to make a choice but I will choose someone who is acceptable to both sides and who the general public is satisfied with.”
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 person…”
The President lamented that the delay in finalising a candidate will have an impact on the work of the Commission, particularly since preparations have to commence for the holding of the 2018 Local Government Elections. “I did not want to prolong the discussion or deliberation because I thought it was quite simple. The Constitution in my mind is very clear and I felt that once I had alerted the Leader of the Opposition to the fact that his set of recommendations were not in accordance with the Constitution [that] he would have submitted a second list… I would like to bring this matter to a swift conclusion,” he said.
He said he remains confident that dialogue between the Attorney General and legal representatives from the Opposition could expedite the resolution of this matter and said that once the new list is in conformity with the Constitution, the process of selecting a candidate could be completed within a matter of days. He added that he is in no rush to name any names but is more concerned with a consultative process, as outlined by the Constitution, that satisfies the requirements there in and is acceptable to all stakeholders.
“I don’t have a candidate in mind. I have a qualification in mind. I want someone who satisfies the Constitutional requirement. That is all I want,” he said.
Yesterday, the President responded to the Opposition Leader on his request for clarification on why his initial list of nominees for the position of a new GECOM Head was rejected. The President in his response, referred him to the Attorney General, in an effort to arrive at consensus on the interpretation of Article 161(2) of the Constitution.