Director-General (DG) of the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon is contending that the delegates assigned by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo were dragging their feet in the process of formulating names for the President’s consideration in appointing the next Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Speaking at a People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) press conference this morning, the retired army official told media practitioners that the matter of coming up with names could have been dealt with, rather than referring the matter back to their respective heads.
According to news reports, the two teams assigned by both Jagdeo and President David Granger had arrived at an impasse in finalising six names from an initial list of 19. The entire process rests now in deadlock, as both leaders will now have to decide on the way forward.
The DG said that after Jagdeo’s list was dealt with in a “certain way”, the path was paved to consider the names of those candidates that were submitted by the President to the Leader of the Opposition to consider.
Harmon told the media that it was then that all negotiations went south. Upon meeting on the day to discuss the names submitted by the President, the members on the other side began to raise issues that were already dealt with in previous engagements.
Harmon said that Jagdeo’s representatives began to constantly seek clarification on matters that had already been agreed upon by both parties.
The DG noted that in one instance – despite providing clarity on more than five occasions – the opposition representatives kept asking what “shortlisting” meant.
“So, this whole thing [about] shortlisting means, what shortlisting means…It was a whole charade! Because in the meeting, I explained over five times what shortlisting means and they still want further explanation. Is sheer drama! Our work was not finished.”
The former State Minister further said that the five persons that were shortlisted along with the eight submitted by the president could have yielded the required six names for consideration.
“We could’ve hammered out the thing up to six, but they don’t want that – they believe that the only hammering gotta come from them,” Harmon lamented.
The DG said that after the five names from Jagdeo’s list were arrived at, the Opposition reps said that it was time for the Leader of the Opposition to act.
Harmon said too that the President’s reps had certain powers that were granted to them by the president to act in a manner as if the Head of State himself was actually involved physically in the process.
“Unlike those on the other side, they could not make any decisions. Everything they had to refer back. Even during the consultations, they gotta go on the phone: ‘they [President representatives] seh dis, wha you think?’”
The government’s side has been and will continue to adhere to the ruling of the CCJ and the agreement with the Leader of the Opposition, Harmon said. He added that the government is committed to concluding the process within days to enable GECOM to function.