The ap­point­ment of the Chair­man of GECOM

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

By: Mo­habir Anil Nand­lall, MP. At­tor­ney-at-Law Last

week, the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion sub­mit­ted to the Pres­i­dent, a list of six per­sons from which the Pres­i­dent is en­ti­tled to choose one, in ac­cor­dance with ar­ti­cle 161 (2) of the Con­sti­tu­tion, to fill the va­cant po­si­tion of Chair­man of the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion. Ar­ti­cle 161 (2) con­tains three im­por­tant caveats: (a) the six per­sons must not be “un­ac­cept­able” to the Pres­i­dent;(b) the Op­po­si­tion Leader is re­quired to hold mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tion with non-govern­men­tal par­ties rep­re­sented in the Na­tional Assem­bly; and (c) if the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion fails to sub­mit such a list then, the Pres­i­dent shall ap­point a per­son who has held the Of­fice of 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 a per­son who is qual­i­fied to be ap­pointed as any such judge.

As re­gards ( a) above, there is no non-govern­men­tal po­lit­i­cal par­ties, cur­rently, in the Na­tional Assem­bly with whom the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion could have held mean­ing­ful con­sul­ta­tions. Nev­er­the­less, and com­mend­ably, the Leader of the Oppo- sition held wide­spread pub­lic con­sul­ta­tions with civil so­ci­ety or­ga­ni­za­tions, the re­li­gious com­mu­nity, the la­bor move­ment and the pri­vate sec­tor. My in­for­ma­tion is, that it is these con­sul­ta­tions which yielded the six names sub­mit­ted to the Pres­i­dent. As re­gards (c) above, there ought to be no is­sue of this even­tu­al­ity aris­ing, since the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion has sub­mit­ted a list of six names as is re­quired.

There­fore, it is now for the Pres­i­dent to de­ter­mine whether he finds this list “not un­ac­cept­able.” If he finds it un­ac­cept­able, he will go down in his­tory as the first Pres­i­dent to have done so since this for­mula was in­tro­duced in 1992. In such an even­tu­al­ity, I agree with the sen­ti­ments ex­pressed in the press by my learned friend, Min­ster Joseph Har­mon, who pointed out that the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion will then be called upon to sub­mit an­other list un­til con­sen­sus is reached.

When one ex­am­ines the his­toric evo­lu­tion of this mat­ter, as I will briefly do, it is clear that those who con­ceived and de­signed this for­mula, in­tended to achieve con­sen­sus be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the Op­po­si­tion, in the ap­point­ment of the Chair­man of the Guyana Elec­tions Com­mis­sion.

Per­haps a con­ve­nient point to be­gin is to ex­am­ine the pre­cur­sor po­si­tion to the cur­rent con­sti­tu­tional for­mula for the ap­point­ment of the Chair­man of the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion. It is cap­tured in ar­ti­cle 161 (2) of the 1980 Con­sti­tu­tion.

It pro­vided for the Chair­man to be elected by the Pres­i­dent (act­ing on his own) from among per­sons who have held the of­fice of 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 a per­son who is qual­i­fied to be ap­pointed as any such judge. Un­der this for­mula, two chair­men were ap­pointed: Sir Don­ald Jack­son un­der the 1966 Con­sti­tu­tion and Sir Harold Bollers un­der the 1980 Con­sti­tu­tion. Both were for­mer Chief Jus­tices of Guyana.

Among the changes cam­paigned for, na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally, as a run-up to the 1992 elec­tions, were re­forms to the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion and the se­lec­tion of a new chair­man. Pres­i­dent Des­mond Hoyte even­tu­ally con­ceded to these, among other re­forms. It was the Carter Cen­ter which put for­ward a pro­posal un­der which the Op­po­si­tion par­ties were to sub­mit a list of names, of six per­sons, and Pres­i­dent Hoyte was to choose one of them as chair­man.

The 1980 con­sti­tu­tion was tem­po­rar­ily amended to accommodate this new for­mula and other changes were made to the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion which are not rel­e­vant to this dis­course. The qual­i­fi­ca­tions of the chair­man were also ex­panded to in­clude “any other fit and proper per­son.”Un­der this new for­mula, Op­po­si­tion Leader, Dr. Cheddi Ja­gan, in, 1991, sub­mit­ted to Pres­i­dent Hoyte, the fol­low­ing six names: David Yankana, Bryn Pol­lard, Rudy Collins, Joey King and Ron­ald Luck­hoo. From this list, Pres­i­dent Hoyte chose Am­bas­sador Rudy Collins.

After the 1992 elec­tions, this tem­po­rary amend­ment to the Con­sti­tu­tion lapsed. How­ever, for the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment elec­tions 1994, the Con­sti­tu­tion was then again tem­po­rar­ily amended, in­cor­po­rat­ing the Carter For­mula for the pur­poses of the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment elec­tions, with one ad­den­dum: that the list of names must not be “un­ac­cept­able” to the Pres­i­dent. Un­der this for­mula, Mr. Hoyte sub­mit­ted a list of six names to Pres­i­dent Ja­gan. From this list, Pres­i­dent Ja­gan chose Mr. Edward Hop­kin­son as Chair­man of the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion for the Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Elec­tions.

The amended Carter For­mula was used again in the 1997 elec­tions with the Con­sti­tu­tion again be­ing amended in 1995, cap­tur­ing the For­mula. In pur­suance thereof, Op­po­si­tion Leader Mr. Hoyte, sub­mit­ted six names to Pres­i­dent Ja­gan.

These names were: Dood­nauth Singh, S.C., Edward Hop­kin­son, Jus­tices James Pat­ter­son and Ru­dolph Harper, Charles Liburd and Ran­dolph Kir­ton. Pres­i­dent Ja­gan chose Mr. Dood­nauth Singh as the Chair­man. Dur­ing the 19992001 Con­sti­tu­tional Re­form process, the Carter for­mula was even­tu­ally in­cor­po­rated per­ma­nently into ar­ti­cle 161 of the Con­sti­tu­tion by Act #2 of 2000.

The Min­utes and the Notes of that process clearly ex­plain that the in­ten­tion of the Carter For­mula was de­signed to achieve con­sen­sus be­tween the Op­po­si­tion and the Pres­i­dent in re­spect of the ap­point­ment of the Chair­man of the Elec­tions Com­mis­sion. The For­mula has been a per­ma­nent fea­ture of the Guyana’s Con­sti­tu­tion since.

In re­la­tion to the 2001 elec­tions, the cur­rent Pres­i­dent him­self were among the names sub­mit­ted by Mr. Hoyte to Pres­i­dent Jagdeo. The list was as fol­lows: Ma­jor Gen­eral Joe Singh, Jus­tice Ru­dolph Harper, Den­nis Craig, David Granger, Gem Fletcher and Harold Davis. Pres­i­dent Jagdeo chose Joe Singh as Chair­man. Dr. Steve Su­ru­jbally was sim­i­larly ap­pointed Chair­man. He func­tioned as chair­man for the 2006, 2011, and 2015 Gen­eral and Re­gional Elec­tions. He served the long­est un­der the now per­ma­nently con­sti­tu­tion­al­ized Carter For­mula.

From the above recita­tion, there is one com­mon­al­ity: the list sub­mit­ted by the Op­po­si­tion Leader from 1992 on­wards was al­ways deemed ac­cept­able by the Pres­i­dent and a per­son was cho­sen from that first list. While it is open for Pres­i­dent Granger to re­ject the list sub­mit­ted last week by Op­po­si­tion Leader, Bharat Jagdeo, the task of fur­nish­ing good and proper rea­son for this re­jec­tion and for dis­re­gard­ing strong prece­dent, I dare­say, would be her­culean.

The list is made up of six con­sti­tu­tion­ally, aca­dem­i­cally and pro­fes­sion­ally qual­i­fied Guyanese of na­tional em­i­nence who have served with distinc­tion in their cho­sen field of en­deav­ors. They are: Ma­jor Gen­eral re­tired Nor­man McLean, Lawrence Latch­mans­ingh, Ramesh Dukhoo, Pro­fes­sor Dr. James G. Rose, Ry­haan Shaw and Lall­bachan Christo­pher Ram.

The ball is now in the Pres­i­dent’s court.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Guyana

© PressReader. All rights reserved.