8 shortlisted as 2nd list likely in two weeks – Jagdeo
GECOM ChairmanshipEight persons have so far been shortlisted as Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo prepares to submit to President David Granger, in two weeks’ time, his second list of nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.The Opposition Leader told Guyana Times on Saturday, during a telephone interview, that he hopes to finalise the list within the next two weeks, so he can submit the fresh list for consideration. He reminded that it is a challenging task to compile a list of candidates in accordance with the requirements stipulated by the Head of State.Jagdeo has expressed hope that the President would accept this second list of nominees, because, he said, the pool of qualified persons keeps getting smaller with every rejection.Businessman Marcel Gaskin has moved to the courts to challenge the constitutionality of President Granger’s rejection of the first list of candidates, but Jagdeo, himself a former President, has expressed hope that those legal proceedings would not setback any progress in appointing a new GECOM Chairman.Jagdeo had previously nominated Attorney Christopher Ram, conflict resolution specialist Lawrence Lachmansingh, retired Major General Norman Mc Lean, business executive Ramesh Dookhoo, Indian rights activist Rhyaan Shah, and History Professor James Rose, but the President had declared that that list was not acceptable on the basis that it did not include anyone who was qualified to be a judge.The issue has sparked a national debate on the interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution of Guyana, with some contending that the President was right while others insist that he had erred. Article 161 (2) states: “…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 jurisdiction in appeals from any such court, or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge, or any other fit and proper person…”Legal luminaries have argued that the Constitution, which incorporated the Carter Formula, provided for the inclusion of any other qualified person outside the field of law by including the phrase “any other fit and proper person”, but Granger has initially maintained that everyone must fall in the legal sphere of being judge-like.Following meetings with the Opposition Leader after weeks of impasse on the matter, Granger provided a list of criteria to be used for the selection of a new list of nominees. However, representatives of civil society with whom Jagdeo consulted have found it challenging to find persons who meet the President’s criteria. His conditions disqualify anyone engaged in any form of activism — gender, racial or religious; and persons affiliating with political parties. Some persons have questioned the legality of the President’s requirement, while others deem it an imposition on the Constitution.The search for a new Chairman of GECOM began following the resignation of Dr Steve Surujbally, a veterinarian by profession, from the post in November 2016.