Justice La Bennett touted as next GECOM Chair


first_img…retired Judge enjoys favoured candidate status – PNC sourceDespite Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo’s supply of two lists of eligible and independent candidates for the post of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, President David Granger will evidently bypass the latest and second list, to appoint a wild card candidate of his own choosing.According to information from sources close to the People’s National Congress (PNC), Granger’s choice for the post has always been retired Justice Claudette La Bennett and, as was feared by several commentators, the rejection of Jagdeo’s nominees was predictable. If the President goes ahead as was indicated, it will not be the first time that La Bennett has been appointed to a post in debatable circumstances by the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government.In 2015, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo’s announcement of her appointment to the chairmanship of the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TURCB) was greeted by an outcry from the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG).According to FITUG Executive Member Komal Chand, there had been a lack of consultations with the unions before her appointment. Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) General Secretary Lincoln Lewis had similar concerns about her appointment.Jagdeo, as Opposition Leader, has a constitutional responsibility to nominate a list of candidates for the GECOM chairmanship. It is a responsibility he has so far discharged meticulously, having supplied two lists of nominees to the President.President Granger had rejected Jagdeo’s first list of nominees, prompting a public discourse on his idiosyncratic interpretation of the Constitution of Guyana regarding the criteria to be fulfilled in the appointment of a GECOM Chairman. Ideally, he had said, the candidate should be qualified to be a judge of the High Court or an attorney for a minimum of seven years. He was insistent that the disjunctive “or” was of no consequence and the constitutional clause meant in effect “the nominee must be an ex-judge or one qualified to be a judge”.After stinging criticism, the President altered his criteria somewhat. Candidates, according to the President’s new criteria, must be able to discharge his/her functions neutrally, between the two opposing parties, as he or she would have done in court between two opposing litigants.Additionally, the person must be able to discharge the functions without fear or favour, without allowing any person or organisation to influence him or her to compromise his or her neutrality.The President also said that persons should have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness and diligence in the discharge of their duty as Chairman of GECOM.Jagdeo’s second list had thus featured retired Justice of Appeal BS Roy, retired Justice William Ramlall, Attorney and former Magistrate Oneidge Walrond Allicock, Attorney Kashir Khan, Attorney Nadia Sagar and Captain Gerald Gouveia.In a statement after submitting his second list, Jagdeo had highlighted that the names submitted were in accordance with the President’s requirements of the candidates having a legal background and of a neutral stance.It was only at a recent press conference that the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had cause to debunk allegations in sections of the media that the President had a right to appoint a Chairman of his choosing if the Opposition Leader’s list did not meet his satisfaction. It is possible these reports were based on information similar to that recently supplied to the Guyana Times.Meanwhile, businessman Marcel Gaskin has moved to the High Court to challenge the constitutionality of President David Granger’s reasoning behind his rejection of the Opposition Leader’s first list of six nominees for the post.Gaskin is the brother of Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, who is also the son-in-law of the President.The businessman wants the court to determine whether Jagdeo’s list of nominees was indeed not “fit and proper” as declared by President Granger.last_img read more