April 12, 2017 Source
TWO judges and a sitting member of the board of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are reportedly on the shortlist of names which Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo intends to send to President David Granger for the post of chair of the elections body.
Jagdeo recently told another newspaper that he had shortlisted eight names for the new list, which he intends to finalise in another week or two. President David Granger recently laid out the criteria for the position, among them being that the person must have no political affiliation and that the person should have the general characteristics of honesty, integrity, faithfulness, and diligence.
The Guyana Chronicle understands that the list of persons which Jagdeo is expected to submit to President Granger includes: Retired Justices: Claudette Singh and B.S. Roy. Other nominees include former PPP Member of Parliament and GECOM commissioner, Bibi Shadick, Attorneys Timothy Jonas and Kashir Khan and environmentalist, Annette Arjoon-Martins.
Shadick, a former minister under the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administration, was sworn in as a GECOM commissioner in September 2015. Justice Claudette Singh, a legal luminary with 40 years of experience, was appointed Senior Counsel in January this year.
She was called to the Bar in London in 1973 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana in 1976. Justice Singh served as the Deputy Solicitor General and as a Puisne Judge and a Justice of Appeal. During her tenure at the Chamber of the Attorney General (AG), she spearheaded the Modernisation of the Justice Reform Project and is currently serving as the Guyana Police Force’s Legal Advisor.
In 2001, Justice Singh had famously pronounced over an election petition which declared the 1997 elections null and void. The judge made the declaration on the grounds that a requirement for voter identification was beyond the legal authority of the Constitution of Guyana. As such, the PPP’s five-year term in office was cut to four years.
Justice B.S. Roy has presided over the courts for a number of years. Recently, the Court of Appeal ruled that the presidential term limit was null and void. Justice Roy along with retired Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Carl Singh, upheld a previous ruling made by retired Chief Justice Ian Chang.
Jonas has been in the legal profession for over two decades. He served as President of the Guyana Bar Association from 2010 to 2012. After assuming office, the government appointed several state boards. Jonas was named Chairman of the Competition and Consumers’ Affairs Board.
Khan has also served the legal profession here for a number of years. He also served as President of the Guyana Bar Association. Arjoon-Martins, a qualified pilot and aviation manager, spent many years as a conservationist, mainly in the marine sector.
In January, President Granger made it clear that he will choose someone who is fit to be a judge as the new chairperson of GECOM. During his weekly recording of ‘The Public Interest’, the President revealed that the Constitution is clear on the required qualifications and it is obvious that what the drafters of the document had in mind was someone who had arrived at the position of a judge. The President made the comments after he deemed “unacceptable” a list which the Opposition Leader had submitted.
Having had his first list rejected, Jagdeo then requested that the President explain what he interprets as “fit and proper” before a second list could be submitted. The letter he (Jagdeo) received on March 16, 2017, detailed the “qualities that the candidate to be Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission should possess.”
As reported by this newspaper last month , Jagdeo noted that he had decided to return to and consult with civil society bodies which had participated in December 2016 consultations with him. Late last month he met with 55 representatives of 33 civil society organisations. The representatives included religious leaders; members of the private sector; trade unions, including the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG); Indigenous organisations, including the National Toshaos Council; the Indian Action Committee (IAC); and the Justice Institute.