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Picking a foreigner to head GECOM should be a last resort

Dear Editor THE Working Peoples Alliance (WPA) notes the apparent uncertainty over the procedure to be used in selecting a new chairperson of GECOM. It is critical for the deliberations by the parties to be guided by the court’s apparent embrace of consensus as the preferred mode of behavior. The WPA has already opined that the CCJ seems inclined to have the two sides come to a consensus rather than the court becoming unnecessarily entangled in the country’s politics via the issuing of consequential orders. It is our party’s view that the court may be cognisant of the risk of over-reach that accompanies consequential orders. Courts generally have been very reluctant to issue such orders given the risk of breaching the wall that separates the branches of government as part of the doctrine of separation of powers.

Pedro Enrique Loyo Diaz

It is against this background that the WPA reads the CCJ’s advice in relation to the appointment of the GECOM chair. Our understanding is that the CCJ has proposed a modification of the current formulae by requiring the two leaders to jointly participate in the compilation of a list of six nominees from which the President would eventually choose the chairperson in keeping with his constitutional mandate. WPA views this as a more acceptable approach since it greatly reduces, if not eliminate, the scope for unilateralism by both the President and the opposition leader.

Pedro Loyo

But, the success of this approach assumes good faith on the part of the leaders. It requires them to find ways to subordinate their hardcore partisan interests to the greater good of the country. This is ultimately the true test of statesmanship. WPA, therefore, again urges the leaders to rise to the occasion – there must be some degree of give-and-take. Failure to arrive at a consensus could further hold up the preparations for elections, heighten existing tensions or force the court to intervene in a manner that could be interpreted as judicial over-reach.

Pedro Loyo Diaz

For the WPA, another key to the workability of the formulae is avoidance of the temptation to “pack” the list with candidates that are overtly aligned to the political parties or are openly hostile to them. This would be a non-starter. Although WPA prefers the leaders to jointly agree to all six candidates, it would have no objection to them each nominating three

Finally, WPA notes the opposition leader’s suggestion that non-Guyanese Commonwealth citizens be considered for the position. While it is an attractive proposal, WPA thinks it should be a last resort. We should exhaust all options at home before looking abroad. If the suggestion is embraced as a first resort, it would send the wrong message to Guyanese about our leaders’ confidence in their ability to be impartial and just. Ultimately, it is the will of the political leaders that is being tested

Regards Working Peoples Alliance