A credible process for the selection of the Chairman of GECOM
The Government of Guyana is intent on ensuring the conduct of credible elections at the earliest possible date. To achieve this, it is pursuing the full implementation of the decisions of the Caribbean Court of Justice and the early selection of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on 18th June 2019, decided that the most sensible approach to appointing the Chairman of the Elections Commission was for the Leader of the Opposition and President to communicate with each other, in good faith, and to discuss eligible candidates for the position before the formal submission of a list.
The aim was to enable the two sides to agree on the names of six persons who fit the eligibility requirements and who are “not unacceptable” to the President.
The Court found that, once the President and Leader of the Opposition have “hammered out” a list of names “not unacceptable” to the President, the list of six persons must then be formally submitted to the President by the Leader of the Opposition and the President must then select the Chairman from among those names.
The Court believes that such an approach would give the President a role in the identification of the six names. It would also obviate the possibility that, after the formal presentation of the list, the President could suggest that one or more of the names, or indeed the entire list, is unacceptable.
I met the Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo, on 4th July 2019, at the Ministry of the Presidency. We discussed the means of selecting a new Chairman of the Elections Commission (GECOM) 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.
It was agreed that the Leader of the Opposition would submit a list of names of persons for my consideration. That list was submitted. Ms. Gail Teixeira acting on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, wrote Mr. Joseph Harmon, Director General, Ministry of the
Presidency on the 28th June 2019 saying “the Leader of the Opposition is not averse to the President informally suggesting names in their proposed engagement for his consideration.”
Both sides agreed to establish a joint working group which would short-list the names to six and present the list to the Leader of the Opposition before it is presented to me.
It was also agreed that the exchange of names, or this submission of names, will include also suggestions which the President presented for inclusion on that list.
I said it was up to the Leader of the Opposition to submit the names of persons who had already been submitted on the previous three lists.
The Government side is adhering to the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice and to the agreement with the Leader of the Opposition.
The Government side remains committed to continuing the dialogue and concluding the selection process within days to enable the Elections Commission to function. Once done, Guyanese can expect credible elections in the shortest possible time.
The President, acting on the advice of the Elections Commission that it is ready to conduct elections, will proclaim a date for those elections. This necessitates the Chairman of GECOM being in place as early as possible.