first_imgJudicial appointmentsBy Samuel SukhnandanRecent comments made by both President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo in relation to appointing a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice for the Judiciary clearly indicate that the impasse has further deepened.Head of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), Mike McCormack, is hoping that both parties would soon put aside their differences and reach a compromise.McCormack is calling for an end to this state of affairs, as he feels the longer it takes to appoint persons in these two top positions, the longer would the quality of justice here continue to be affected.“The essence of the appointment of the full positions as opposed to the acting is it ring-fences the individual against political influence. You cannot be removed. And positions of (this) nature, the essence of the job requires political impartially and independence be protected,” he reminded.The GHRA head said the same state of affairs obtained in regard to the appointment of a chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).“These are major appointments, as is the chairperson for the Elections Commission; but the process by which they are being selected is secretive,” he noted.McCormack told Guyana Times on Thursday that no one has a clue about the process which President Granger used to select Justice Kenneth Benjamin for the position of Chancellor and Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards for the position of Chief Justice; nor is anyone aware why they are unacceptable to the Leader of the Opposition.The human rights activist said he supports calls made by the Guyana Bar Association (GBA) to have this matter resolved. While explaining that this matter would be of particular interest to the GBA, he said all groups should be equally concerned about similar — and in some cases far more important — matters. He was referring to issue surrounding the appointment of a Police Service Commission.McCormack said, “The problem is (that) there is no politics in Guyana. Politics is a process of compromise and give-and-take, and getting something of what you want, and each party getting enough to stay in the game, so to speak…and you move on and keep improving compromises. That is what politics is about.”He contends that politics in Guyana is profoundly dysfunctional, and this, in turn, causes compromises to be seen as weaknesses. “There is nothing as a courageous compromise, which is a contradiction in our terms of politics. There are no politics, but there are power struggles here,” he added.The GHRA head went further, to state that Guyana has two parties, “who are beholding to the leaders, not to the people who elected them. So there are not many points of political power that can mediate problems like this. Everything revolves around the way two individuals relate to each other.”On that note, McCormack said, the situation unfortunately can be resolved only by constitutional reform. “Neither party is interested in constitutional reform, so we will have to look for a solution beyond the political parties,” he said.“It won’t work if political parties are not behaving as political parties, and more than power groups who are more concerned not to allow the other side any merit or advantage, regardless of the public cost of it,” Mc Cormack declared.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday drew reference to the letter he had written to President Granger since February 2018 about these appointments, when he rejected the President’s nominees. Jagdeo reminded that in his letter he had committed to continuous engagement with the President.Asked whether he would seek to re-engage the President, Jagdeo made it clear that, as the President, Granger would have to re-initiate the discourse. He noted that he was waiting on the President to get back to him on the mode of future discourse, and stated that the proverbial ball has always been in the President’s court.But a few days prior to Wednesday, President Granger had said there is nothing left to discuss on the matter. The Head of State had said he had looked forward to a timely settlement of the appointment, which many deem critical to the effective functioning of the Judiciary, but that didn’t happen.Granger had initially said the proverbial ball was in the court of the Leader of the Opposition. He explained that Jagdeo had rejected his candidates and had not made any counter-proposals in regard to the appointments. He, nevertheless, reminded that the decision is solely dependent on consultations with Jagdeo on these two important appointments.Amidst the impasse between the President and the Leader of the Opposition over these appointments, the local legal fraternity has been calling for confirmation of the current two judicial heads. In fact, President of the GBA, Kamal Ramkarran, had said the fraternity supports Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Roxane George for the respective positions of Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice.last_img read more