By Dr. David Hinds
When Dr. Jagan presented the first list in 1990 to President Hoyte, it included the following persons: Ambassador Rudolph (Rudy) Collins, Jules DeCambra, Joey King, Edward Luckhoo, Brynmore (Bryn) Pollard and David Yankana. Note there were no known PPP members or sympathisers on that list and importantly it included African Guyanese public servants in the mould that is generally acceptable to the PNC and African Guyanese elites. Hoyte promptly chose Collins, who fitted the bill—he was not known as a party man, he was Black, respectable and he was not known to be hostile to the PNC.
When it was Hoyte’s turn to submit lists, he included one Indian Guyanese, on each list, two of whom were proposed by the WPA. The PPP leaders promptly chose the only Indian Guyanese on the lists. It was clear that for the PPP, the Indian identity of the appointee was paramount, even if that person was not known to be partial to the PPP. The unspoken trend was set. Both Steve Surujbally and Doodnauth Singh were nominated by the WPA. What is key is that while both men were known to be anti-PNC, Hoyte still included them on his lists.
Do we really believe that any of the three GECOM chairs chosen by the PPP was the first choice of the PNC? But they had to live with it—they accepted the unspoken reality, that the sitting President would choose someone that fits his or her idea of “fit and proper.” What is the point I am making? It is the responsibility of the party that is putting together the list to ensure that it does not sabotage the process by leaving the president with no option but to reject the list.
But that is not what Jagdeo did; he went against that spirit—unlike Dr. Jagan and Mr Hoyte, he gave Mr Granger lists that comprised PPP members and sympathisers and others whom a PNC leader would not have confidence in. Mr Jagdeo, in effect, compromised the spirit of the Carter Formulae by intentionally presenting impossible lists.
For me, any legal opinion on Granger’s rejection of the lists and his reaching for the “nuclear option” of unilateral appointment would have to take the nature of the lists presented to him into consideration. In other words, did the lists meet both the letter and the spirit of the constitution? They may have met the letter, but certainly not the spirit. My argument is that the burden of the integrity of the process lies with its initiator, namely the Opposition leader. For example, did Mr Jagdeo consult with representatives of the African Guyanese community—ACDA, Cuffy250 etc.- and include their nominees in his list?