File photo: President David Granger greets-Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. [DPI)

File photo: President David Granger greets-Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. (DPI)

July 16 2019

-concern over continued functioning of Cabinet to be raised with international community

President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo are expected to meet at the Ministry of the Presidency today to discuss the appointment of a Chair-person for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Executive member of the People’s Progressive Party Gail Teixeira confirmed to Stabroek News last evening that the meeting had been organised. It is scheduled for 5 pm.

Hours earlier, Jagdeo had lamented Granger’s failure to arrange a meeting over the weekend after telling the nation that a Chairman could have been appointed by yesterday.

The appointment is crucial as elections are due to be held as a result of the National Assembly’s passage of a motion of no-confidence against the government on December 21st, 2018.

Jagdeo also indicated that he will be meeting with representatives of the international community to express his concern that the government was disregarding the constitution by declaring that Cabinet would continue to function even though they had been defeated by a no-confidence motion.

Although accepting its “interim” status based on the judgment of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), the APNU+AFC government has declared that Cabinet is continuing to function, despite this being in clear violation of the provisions of Article 106 (6) of the Constitution, which requires its resignation, including that of the president, as was pointed out by the CCJ last Friday.

The CCJ, which is Guyana’s final appeal court, has declared that the clear provisions of Article 106 immediately became engaged when the motion was passed last December.

Article 106 (6) stipulates that “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”

Article 106 (7) adds, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the elections.”

‘Ready to submit list’

Meanwhile, Jagdeo yesterday shared correspondence between his representative Teixeira and Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon in which Teixeira repeatedly asked for a meeting time.

The first letter, dispatched by Teixeira last Friday, said that in keeping with the President’s word that he was committed to the selection of a Chairman soonest, that a meeting date be proposed over the weekend.

The president did not respond to that request and instead Harmon proposed that retired judge Claudette La Bennett and George-town Public Hospital Corporation Chairperson Kesaundra Alves be added to a list of six persons that Jagdeo would submit to the President for consideration.

“In furtherance of His Excellency’s desire to see the process of appointing the said Chairman for GECOM concluded by Monday 2019.07.15, His excellency now wishes to suggest for consideration… two names extracted from the list of eight earlier submitted,” Harmon wrote.

Teixeira, in turn, asked about the status of “six” names shortlisted following the meetings last week. She again asked whether those names were “not unacceptable” to President David Granger.

Harmon had previously indicated that five names had been shortlisted but Jagdeo maintained that as far as his team is concerned there are six shortlisted names.

He went on to claim that the President’s representatives had used spurious reasons to deem several of the 11 he had floated as unacceptable.

In closing her second letter, Teixeira also noted that no meeting time had been scheduled and asked if this therefore indicated the end of the informal process.

In the event that the formal process had begun, Teixeira noted that the opposition anticipated that “it will be necessary for the President to formally write the Leader of the Opposition that there is a vacancy in the post of the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission and in keeping with Article 161 (2) invite the Leader of the Opposition to submit his list of six names, “not unacceptable” to the President.”

Jagdeo yesterday reiterated that he stands ready to submit a list once the President writes to him.

He also reiterated that he is open to nominating someone from a Commonwealth nation if he and the President “can’t find all of the names acceptable here.”

Jagdeo also criticised President Granger for claiming that he had acted in bad faith during their informal engagement.

“It is unfortunate that, despite the meetings between the two sides, the Leader of the Opposition rejected the idea of acting in a consensual manner. He chose to put forward candidates for the post who have been rejected previously,” the president said in his address last Friday.

According to Jagdeo, the entire country knows this statement to be a lie because it was Granger himself who announced at his most recent press conference that “the names submitted before are not eliminated.”

The President had said then that “the Leader of the Opposition is free to submit names which have been already submitted in the three previous iterations and he has agreed to confirm those persons are still willing to have their names forwarded. So the names submitted before are not eliminated.”