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Constitutional Reform

YOUTHFORCHANGE·WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2017

Dear Editor,

I have read very diligently, the argument put forward by the Attorney General in the statement released by the AG’s Chambers and the Ministry of Legal Affairs in relation to the President’s decision to unilaterally select and appoint the Chairman of GECOM.

I have noticed that with the appointment of Justice Patterson, the President has attracted heavy criticism for the decision. While some are of the view that the appointment is unconstitutional, others have sited Justice Patterson’s age as the issue. Albeit, in their own rights, each argument put forward may or may not have their merits, I am of the view that few are focused on the key issue – powers of the President and constitutional reform.

The Alliance for Change, in a statement released on Friday, 20th October, 2017, in relation to the appointment of GECOM Chair, explicitly stated that they [the AFC] played no part in the selection process and that, in accordance with the Constitution, consultation was between His Excellency and the Leader of the Opposition. Article 161(2) of the Constitution affords the President the power to unilaterally select and appoint a GECOM Chair in the absence of a list of six persons presented by the Leader of the Opposition, not unacceptable to the President. In the case of Marcel Gaskin v AG etal, Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire expounded on the aforementioned Article stating “the submission of the list does not mean that the President is obliged to accept the list or the persons named in it…” Thus debunking the opposition’s misconception that a Chairman MUST be appointed from the list of names they have previously submitted. As a matter of fact, “reasons…must be given so that the parameters for the submission of another list, if required would be set”. After the rejection of a third list submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, the President was well within his Constitutional ambit to unilaterally appoint the Chairman of GECOM.

The PPP/C should not be frustrated with or by the President’s decision to unilaterally appoint a GECOM Chair, they should be frustrated with themselves for spreading their misconceived notion that constitutional reform was not/is not needed! I do not credit any argument posited by the members of the opposition that the appointment was unconstitutional since they are the ones who have been pushing for weeks and months that the government, focused on constitutional reform, should instead be focused on adhering to the Constitution! Did the President not adhere to the supreme law of the land when he found not one but three of the Leader of the Opposition’s lists presented to be unacceptable? Did the President not adhere to the Constitution when he gave reasons for rejecting the first list presented to him ‘so that the parameters for the submission of another list, if required would be set’? And did the President not adhere to the Constitution when he, in the absence of a list of six persons presented by the Leader of the Opposition, not unacceptable to him [the President] unilaterally appointed a GECOM Chair?

If the PPP/C is still of the view that constitutional reform is not needed in consideration of the facts, then they have yet again failed to recognise the underlining issue are indeed not equipped to govern Guyana again especially under the existing Constitutional doctrine!

Join the AFC in lobbying the government for a hastened constitutional reform process, it cannot and should not be delayed!

Sincerely,

Cynthia Rutherford

President

Youths for Change

AFC