Guyana President accused of engaging in stalling practices regarding appointment to the judiciary

Dr. Irfaan Ali (left) and Opposition leader Joseph Harmon.
President Dr. Irfaan Ali (left) and Opposition leader Joseph Harmon.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Aug 3, CMC – Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon says while he is prepared to hold constitutionally required consultations on the appointment of a substantive Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, President Dr. Irfaan Ali is engaged in stalling tactics.

“I wish to categorically state, once again, that I am ready, willing, and able to engage in consultations on this matter at the earliest opportunity. I am prepared to meet with President Ali for consultation this week, as early as tomorrow, if he is so inclined,” Harmon said in a statement late Monday.

President Ali has already indicated that he will refuse to hold such consultations unless Harmon recognizes the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) as the legitimately elected government.

Harmon has been calling on President Ali to confirm Chancellor of the Judiciary, Yonette Cummings, and Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire who have been acting since 2017. Ms. Cummings was appointed to act as Chancellor to succeed Justice Carl Singh who retired in 2017 after acting in that position for 12 years.

Harmon in his statement said that he had taken note of the “most recent pleadings and protestations with regard to constitutionally mandated consultation on judicial appointments.

“I feel pity and sorrow for Mr. Ali who is clearly suffering from confusion and insecurity about his stature.”

He said that t was the PPP/C in government and in opposition, which has engaged in political intransigence that has caused Guyana to be without a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice for decades.

Harmon alleges that the “PPP simply does not want substantive appointments to be made to these two top judicial positions,” adding “the “PPP wishes to hold non-confirmation as the sword of Damocles over the heads of those appointed to act”.

Harmon also said that it appears “as though Mr. Ali is uncertain about his status as President and is seeking validation.

“Perhaps he is acutely aware that even as he acts, he does so not of his own free will and volition but at the behest of his handler. Mr. Ali’s insecurities cannot be resolved to be me, but he must look to Pradoville 2 to release him from whatever constraints and bondage he finds himself in.

“It was he who willingly chose to subject himself to this arrangement, and if now that he is in the position, he is suffering from buyer’s remorse he must take that up with the person with whom he entered into the odious deal,” Harmon said, adding “I was not a part of that transaction and I am not in a position to release Mr. Ali from whatever insecurities he feels imprisoned by.

“It is clear that it is Mr. Ali who seems to unwaveringly believe that he is president only in name and on paper. This is understandable given that he is only able to effectively act as a Presidential secretary, executing what he is instructed to without any latitude or power to act of his own free will.”

Former president of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Sir Denis Byron had in 2017 urged “the high officials of our community” to abide by the constitution appoint the highest judicial officials, as an important means of guaranteeing judicial independence to citizens.

Former president David Granger had wanted to appoint Justice Kenneth Benjamin to the post of Chancellor and Justice Cummings as Chief Justice, but then-Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had refused to give his consent on the grounds of undisclosed findings of his due diligence.

CMC

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