President, David Granger has noted that the provisions of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution gives him the discretion to appoint a Chairman of The Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) from the final list submitted by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo “of six persons not unacceptable to President,” and the proviso thereto.
According to a release from the government, Article 182(1) of the Constitution empowers him to act in his own deliberate judgement when exercising such discretion.
The release noted that the case of Marcel Gaskin V AG etal in which Learned Chief Justice the Hon. Roxane George-Wiltshire gave the following answers to the Applicant’s questions inter alia: –
“The submission of the list does not mean that the President is obliged to accept the list or the persons named in it. If the President is of the view that the list is deficient either in totality or in the names that have been included, he can exercise his discretion to deem the entire list unacceptable. See page 30 of the Marcel Gaskin’s case.
“If the President considers that one or more persons on the list is not a fit and proper person and therefore unacceptable, then he may decide to reject the entire list as being incomplete or restrictive, or
He may decide to choose one of the persons if they qualify even though every other name on the list is not acceptable. Therefore the whole list need not be rejected. (P.26)
Having considered the foregoing His Excellency found this final list to be unacceptable, the release states.
His Excellency further examined the Learned Chief Justice’s answers in relation to the President giving reasons for his rejection of a list namely: –
“The Leader of the Opposition and others for that matter, may not agree with the reasons given, but they must be given so that the parameters for the submission of another list, if required would be set.” (P.29), the document noted.
The President understands this to mean that only where he agrees to more than one list reasons must be given, the statement noted.
His Excellency after rejecting the first list did give the Leader of the Opposition on his request a list of criteria or characteristics that would make listed persons acceptable to him, to wit: –
a. That person is deemed to have wide electoral knowledge, capable of handling electoral matters because he or she is qualified to exercise unlimited jurisdiction in civil matters,
b.He or she will discharge their functions without fear or favour, that is, they will not allow any person or organisation to bulldoze or influence them to compromise their neutrality,
c.This person will discharge their functions neutrally between the 2 opposing parties as they would have done in Court between 2 opposing litigants,
d.The person will not be an activist in any form (gender, racial, theological, religious etc.),
e.They should not have any political affiliation or belong to any political party in any form, apparent or hidden, and
f.They should have a general character of honesty, integrity, faithfulness, diligence and fear of God in the discharge of their duty as Chairman.
The names of the listed persons in the final list have not conformed to these criteria.
Having rejected the final list reliance was placed on the Learned Chief Justice’s ruling that the President in the exercise of his judgement to reject the final list could have: –
“Resort to the proviso to Article 161(2) which permits the President to act independently to appoint a person of the Judicial category to be the Chairman of Gecom, that is a person who is presumptively fit and proper.” (P.30).
It is in the light of these premises His Excellency appointed the Hon. Justice Patterson as a fit and proper person to the office of Gecom Chairman, the statement concludes.