President of Guyana, Brigadier David Granger. (FILE)
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GEORGETOWN – President David Granger Friday named retired Justice Claudette Singh as the new chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) as the country prepares for fresh regional and general election as mandated by the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The announcement was made following talks between Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo.
A brief official statement said that the two leaders had been meeting to hammer out a list of nominees “not unacceptable” to the President as in keeping with the provisions of the Guyana Constitution.
It said that Jagdeo had agreed to the new list and the appointment of the new GECOM chairman was aimed at “ensuring that the Elections Commission could resume its normal functions with the aim of conducting General and Regional Elections in the shortest possible time”.
“Justice Singh satisfies the criteria for the appointment, and also satisfies the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) for a consensual appointment supported by both the president and the leader of the opposition.”
She replaces retired justice James Patterson whose appointment the CCJ had said was flawed.
In 2017, she became one of the only three women here to be appointed Senior Counsel in history of Independent Guyana. She was called to the Bar in London in 1973 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana in 1976.
Justice Singh served as the Deputy Solicitor General and as a Puisne Judge and a Justice of Appeal. During her tenure at the Chamber of the Attorney General (AG), she spearheaded the Modernisation of the Justice Reform Project and is currently serving as the Guyana Police Force’s Legal Advisor.
Jagdeo said he was “very, very happy” with the appointment, noting she had previously declined his invitation to be on a previous list, on Friday agreed to be a nominee.
The main opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had last December successfully tabled a motion of no confidence in the government after a government legislator broke ranks and provided the one-seat majority needed to topple the three and a half year old administration.
The CCJ had said that while it cannot “establish a date on or by which elections must be held” it also could “not lay down timelines and deadlines that in principle are the preserves of political actors guided by constitutional imperatives”.
But the CCJ said it must assume that “these bodies and personages will exercise their responsibilities with integrity and in keeping with the unambiguous provisions of the Constitution, bearing in mind that the no confidence motion was validly passed as long ago as 21st December 2018”.
Under the Guyana Constitution, elections therefore must be held within a 90 day period following the passage of the motion in the parliament or unless extended by the legislative body.
Granger has said in the past that he would await the go ahead from the GECOM chairman in order to announce the date for the fresh elections, but the PPP has said that it must be called by September 18 in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution. (CMC)