The President’s decision to turn down all of the Opposition Leader’s nominees for the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and make an appointment of his own, appeared to be the main area of contention during the Appeal hearing of the appointment at the Caribbean Court of Justice.
Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes, who is representing the interest of the appellant, Zulficar Mustapha, told the Judges of the CCJ that there were no consultations or discussions between the President and the Opposition Leader prior to the request for the Opposition Leader to submit his nominees.
While admitting that the Leader of the Opposition never requested dialogue or consultations before the submission of the first list, the Attorney said the obligation was on both the President and the Opposition Leader to meet with each other.
The Senior Counsel argued that once the President rejected the nominees, he should have given reasons for his rejection.
“The President is saying that the persons don’t meet the requirements because they are not eligible, then he will certainly have to say why”, the Attorney told the Judges.
He said even after the President set out the criteria for the position following a meeting with the Opposition Leader, it appeared as though he ventured away from his own requirements as he turned down other nominees.
The Attorney is asking the Court to throw out the ruling of the Guyana Court of Appeal, which found that the appointment by the President was lawful.
However, the Attorney also told the Court that owing to the other matters that will come up before it on Thursday and Friday, dealing with the no-confidence motion, the Court might be asked to suspend its order if it rules to throw out the GECOM appointment. He said if the Court throws out the appointment then it could result in elections in Guyana being further delayed.
The Attorneys representing the Guyana Attorney General in the matter argued to the Court that the President was within his right to make an appointment based on his own deliberate judgement.
The two Barbadian Attorneys, Queen Counsel, Hal Gallop and Ralph Thorne, both told the CCJ that the President followed the Constitution and did not need to provide any reason for his decision to turn down the Opposition Leader’s nominees.
Both Attorneys were grilled by the Judges of the CCJ who questioned whether by acting on his own, the President did not take the system back to what existed previously, when the President was allowed to make an appointment without any input from the Opposition.
The Attorneys argued that the issue also came down to politics and both sides wanting someone in there who would be acceptable to them.
One of the Judges of the CCJ remarked that the two sides ought to be meeting and not having an issue like this finding its way before the Caribbean Court.
The Judges did not give a date for the handing down of their ruling.