Georgetown, Guyana – (July 4, 2019) President David Granger, today, met Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo at the Ministry of the Presidency where they discussed the means of selecting a new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
During a press briefing held after the meeting, the President said in accordance with the judgement of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) and given the need to ensure that GECOM is allowed to function in an uninterrupted manner, the meeting aimed to reach consensus on the way forward for the nomination and appointment of the GECOM Chairman.
“So our discussions which lasted just about an hour, were clearly focused on the means, not the nomination, the means to be adopted for the nomination and appointment of the Chairman of the Elections Commission. We feel that unless and until the Chairman is appointed, the work of the Commission will not be able to move ahead as quickly as possible. We are also bound now by the interpretation of the Caribbean Court of Justice, which has spoken twice on the issue of elections and it was really an obedience to that last injunction by that Court that I decided to meet the Leader of the Opposition to decide on a way forward and this has been done,” he said.
Meanwhile, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon, explained that the two sides agreed in the meeting that the process will be completed within the shortest possible time.
“In fact, the President indicated that he would like this process to be completed within days so what that means is that the two sides will have to be engaged in what the CCJ called, the “hammering out” of the names of persons to arrive at a list of six which the Leader of the Opposition will present to His Excellency, and from which he would choose one person to be named the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission. Our conversation this afternoon, was basically in a cordial manner. The conversations tended towards the injunctions of the CCJ that the process must be a consensual one and so in keeping with that, we have agreed that the Leader of the Opposition will submit in a very short manner, a list of names of persons that will be for the consideration of the President,” he said.
In this regard, Mr. Harmon noted that the two sides agreed on two approaches from which the list of names can be derived. The first, he said, is the formulation of a working group, which will short-list the names to six and then present it to the Leader of the Opposition.
“This exchange of names or this submission of names, will also include any suggestions which the President has for inclusion on that list. [This] will see a small group of technical persons; not technical in the sense of removing politicians but a small group of relative advisors that liaise with the Leader of the Opposition and the President, looking at the preliminary list of names and weeding out those which would not find favour either way, and once we arrive at a situation then that list can be provided to the Leader of the Opposition before he presents that to the President. That’s one approach,” the Director General said.
Mr. Harmon noted that the second approach is for the President and the Leader of the Opposition to sit and arrive at a list on their own.
“So these are two approaches and we expect that the Leader of the Opposition will write and submit his list of names. You’d recall that the CCJ found that the process that we employed in arriving at a Chairman of the Elections Commission, that the process was flawed and therefore, rather than re-submitting names, we consider the names that will be submitted by the Leader of the Opposition to be a submission and this we consider to be his first submission and we take it from there,” he asserted.
President Granger iterated that the Leader of the Opposition is free to submit the names that have already been submitted on the past three lists and he has also agreed to confirm that those persons are still willing to have their names forwarded.
“So the names that have been submitted before are not eliminated. As the Director General pointed out, the process which has been identified by the CCJ allows the President to make submissions in the form of this “hammering out” that the CCJ has enjoined us to adopt. So that is as much as we have achieved. I think it is a move forward towards the appointment of a Chairman of the Commission and I am confident that once there is a Chairman of the Commission, who enjoys the confidence of both the Opposition and the Government, the Commission itself will start to function much more smoothly. So I hope …that we can move forward now and Guyanese can look forward to credible elections in as shortest time as possible,” the Head of State said.
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo; Minister of Public Security, Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan; Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mr. Basil Williams; Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally; Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings-Williams; Minister of Public Health, Mrs. Volda Lawrence; Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman and Director General Harmon were part of the President’s team.
Mr. Jagdeo’s team included Mr. Anil Nandlall, Mr. Irfaan Ali, Mr. Juan Edghill and Ms. Gail Teixeira.