A request by the President’s office for the consultations on constitutional appointments between the President and the Opposition Leader to restart today was turned down by the Opposition Leader over scheduling conflicts.
Three weeks after the first meeting between President Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton, the President’s office wrote to the Opposition Leader on Friday requesting that he attends a meeting today for the restart of the consultations.
Instead, Mr. Norton wrote to Minister of Governance Gail Teixeira this morning and informed her that the meeting should have been held no more than one week after the initial meeting in keeping with their agreement and joint statement.
Norton said his schedule would not have allowed him to attend the meeting today. He accused the Government of not sticking to the original agreement and still holding back on information regarding some of the nominees for the various Constitutional Commissions.
Norton also said he would like to see the consultation regarding the confirmation of a Chancellor and Chief justice placed on the agenda since it is of national importance. Norton has already indicated that he will support the confirmation of Justice Yonette Cummings as Chancellor and Justice Roxanne George as Chief Justice.
He said the Government’s position that the President is not prepared to consult on the judicial appointments at this stage is a gross dereliction of the concerns of civil society groups and the people of Guyana.
In a live Facebook statement on the consultations this afternoon from his office, President Irfaan Ali said he was not given any reason for the Opposition Leader’s absence from the meeting today.
“Not only did he not attend today, but he did not provide anything in writing”, the President said.
Although a letter from the Opposition Leader’s office to the President’s Office bearing today’s date was shared with the media, up to this afternoon, the President said he did not receive any communication from Mr. Norton.
“If this is the approach of the Leader of the Opposition. I have no problems with that but my approach is to move this country forward and our approach in Government is to take this country forward in keeping with the constitutional requirements and we will not have those requirements held up or held hostage by political objectives”, the President said.
The President said by not attending today’s meeting, the Leader of the Opposition has demonstrated his “unwillingness and immaturity” in dealing with important national issues.
It was explained that the reason the meeting could not have been held earlier was due to Guyana hosting the Regional Agriculture Investment Forum and plans for the country’s independence celebrations.
The Leader of the Opposition said those events were being planned long before the President committed himself to continue the consultations no more than one week after the initial meeting, and he therefore would not accept that excuse.
Aubrey Norton became Opposition Leader in April following the resignation of Joe Harmon from the post. The President has refused to hold any meetings or consultations with the former Opposition Leader in the year and a half that he held the post.