Late this evening, DPI Guyana issued a statement under the caption “Jagdeo nor any other interventions will not stymie the work of the judiciary – Minister Harmon”
The relevant parts of statement read “…Minister Joseph Harmon today during a post-Cabinet press conference said that President David Granger will be writing Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo informing him that another level of consultations will be held before the appointment of a substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice…”
“….There is a provision in the law which provides that in the event that there cannot be agreement because the requirement is for there to be agreement. Where agreement cannot be met, there is a second level which now requires meaningful consultations, so I believe that is the next step we will have to go to,” Minister Harmon said…”
These two excerpts lead to the irresistible inference that Minister Harmon is contending that the Constitution provides, in relation to the substantive appointment of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, that if there is no agreement between the President and the Leader of the Opposition then the appointments can still be lawfully made once there is “meaningful consultation” between the two.
Unfortunately, Mr. Harmon has not cited the Constitutional Article, which so provides. There is none. Minister Harmon, either wittingly or unwittingly, is grossly misrepresenting the constitutional position. The sole relevant Article, 127 (1), is excruciatingly clear. It is expressed in a singular sentence, spanning only three lines. It brokers no place for ambiguity or equivocation. It provides:
127 (1) “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”
Be assured that if there is any attempt by President David Granger to flout or to ignore the strict constitutional prescription on this matter, the PPP will leave no stone unturned in a relentless effort to ensure constitutional compliance.
If the head of the Judiciary, the constitutional bulwark of our democracy and the organ of State vested with the responsibility to protect our constitutional and human rights and freedoms and to preserve our democracy, law and order and indeed civil society as we know it, is allowed to be bastardised by the authoritarians who now wield political power, this nation will rapidly degenerate into a state of anarchy from which we may never fully recover.
This is one issue that we must never allow to be a casualty of partisan politics.
Although the PPP will certainly be playing its part, it must not be left alone to carry the struggle. Those who choose to stand idly by in the face of such travesty will do so at their own peril.
It is sincerely hoped that the two highly respected and experienced judicial officers identified by the President will not lend themselves to be used in this proposed constitutional heresy, for they will be embroiled in the ensuing litigation which may unnecessarily tarnish their high professional standing , stature and professional reputation. I hold both of them in sufficiently high esteem to know that they would recognise the vulgar violation of the Constitution that is being contemplated.