RISE Guyana has noted its concerns regarding the recent developments surrounding the appointments of a Chancellor and Chief Justice.
According to the group, Article 127 (1) of the Constitution is unambiguous in its description of the obligations of President and Opposition Leader. However as far back as early 2017 it appears the President had taken a position regarding the appointment of Justice Kenneth Benjamin which suggests a fait accompli, lacking the benefit of the consultative process with the Leader of the Opposition, a predetermined position with limited scope for disagreement.
Where do the parties go from here? Article 127 (2) of the Constitution will now serve to guide our leaders as they deliberate to arrive at a consensual solution. ‘Meaningful consultation’ must now be relied upon to ensure that the fears of unilateral appointments are assuaged, the group said.
According to Minister Harmon (Stabroek News February 9, 2018) “Mr Jagdeo’s rejection, as I said, is constitutional. The President’s powers are also constitutional and there is a provision in the law which provides in the event that there cannot be agreement-because the requirement is for agreement – there is a second level which now requires meaningful consultation. I believe that is the next step we will have to go to”…
RISE Guyana urges the President and the Leader of the Opposition to use the opportunity for meaningful consultation to reach a consensus which will assure citizens that the democratic process is sacrosanct.
No good purpose will be served if leading judges find themselves named in proceedings alleging breaches of the Constitution.
RISE Guyana stands ready to assist in moving the process forward.
For ease of reference, please find below the relevant sections referred to above:
127. (1) The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.
127. (2) If the office of Chancellor or Chief Justice is vacant or if the person holding the office of Chancellor is performing the functions of the office of President or for any other reason unable to perform the functions of his office, or if the person holding the office of Chief Justice is for any reason unable to perform the functions of his office, then, until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of such office or until the person holding such office has resumed those functions, as the case may be, those functions shall be performed by such other of the Judges as shall be appointed by the President after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.