Further delays in naming GECOM Chairman


The process of selecting a new Chairman of the Elections Commission has been further delayed as the government has not yet clarified its position as regards its interpretation of the constitutional requirements to select the Chairman.
The government and the opposition are at odds over the interpretation since President Granger rejected a list of nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The deal with the situation the President named his Attorney General, Basil Williams, to talk with PPP MP, Anil Nandlall, the representative of Jagdeo, after the President refused a requested to meet with Jagdeo to thrash out the matter.

Nandlall and Williams met last week after a long delay and according to Nandlall, there was “nothing tangible emerging from the engagement.” Nandlall was accompanied by attorney-at-law, Priya Manickchand.

Williams said he needed time to consider the issues raised by Nandlall and then he would give a response. The Attorney General has not named a date for a further meeting. In a statement issued by Nandlall, it is stated:
The meeting between Attorney General, Basil Williams and Member of Parliament, Anil Nandlall, took place last Wednesday after a long delay and it is Today, Priya Manikchand, Attorney-at-Law and I met with Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams, pursuant to a proposal made by President David Granger to Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, to discuss the appointment of a Chairman of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). At the meeting, we proffered our interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution, in writing, and we supported our position with a number of case law authorities from Guyana, the Caribbean and the Commonwealth.

Attorney General, Mr. Basil Williams, was unprepared to put forward his or the government’s interpretation of Article 161 of the Constitution, despite our several requests for him to do so. Instead, he indicated that he will need time to interpret our contentions and prepare his response. All of the interpretations offered by us today were fully and publicly ventilated in the media. The meeting ended with the Attorney General being unable to identify another date available in his diary for us to meet again.

I am disappointed by the lack of preparedness of the Attorney General, which resulted in nothing tangible emerging from the engagement. Moreover, the Attorney General could not even identify a date for our re-engagement. Quite frankly, I was hoping that the Attorney General would have been ready with his position on the matter today; that may have resulted in this matter being concluded with dispatch and decisively. In the meanwhile, Guyana’s democracy continues to hang in the balance.

We consider this a matter of great national importance.