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We have no issues appointing Chancellor, Chief Justice – Pres Ali

– says will be done after establishment of service commissions

President Dr Irfaan Ali has stated that he would be engaging the Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton, on the appointments of the Chancellor and Chief Justice (CJ) when the time is right, and after the various service commissions are established.
At a press conference on Monday last, Norton expressed his support for the confirmation of Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards as Chancellor and Justice Roxane George as Chief Justice. They are currently acting in their respective positions.
“In recognition of the importance and necessity of making permanent appointments to the offices of Chancellor and Chief Justice, we restate our commitment to agreeing to the immediate appointment of Justices Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Roxanne George as the Chancellor and Chief Justice respectively,” the Opposition Leader has stated.
Article 127 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana states: “The Chancellor and the Chief Justice shall each be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition.”
According to President Ali, consultations are currently ongoing for the service commissions, after which he would engage the Opposition Leader on the judicial appointments.
“We have no issues appointing (the Chancellor and Chief Justice), but when the right time comes, we will have the consultations on the Chancellor and the Chief Justice. The consultation (with the Opposition Leader so far) was on the Commissions,” the President has said. “The President asked for consultations on those commissions (specifically),” the Head of State told reporters on Friday at State House.

President Dr Irfaan Ali

On May 13, President Ali and Opposition Leader Norton met for the first time to consult on the appointments of the various service commissions, including the Judicial Service Commission, Police Service Commission, Teaching Service Commission and the Integrity Commission. At the time, the two leaders had agreed to consult, in keeping with the Constitution, which stipulates that meaningful consultation be held on the appointments of these Service Commissions.
In fact, Norton had requested additional information on the nominees, and this was provided to him.
However, when the Head of State invited the Opposition Leader last Monday for a second meeting, Norton failed to show, citing that he was busy. As a result, President Ali went ahead and appointed the Police Service Commission and the Integrity Commission the following day, when the members were sworn-in.
Asked about the appointments of the other commissions on Friday, the Guyanese Leader said consultations were completed.
“I have completed consultations on those that were before the process, including the three names for the Teaching Service Commission and one name for the Judicial Service Commission,” the President indicated.
Meanwhile, Norton has since indicated his intention to legally challenge last week’s appointments of the Police Service Commission and the Integrity Service Commission. The Members of the PSC were selected and approved by the National Assembly, and the two leaders were required to meet and appoint a chairman from among the names.

Opposition Leader
Aubrey Norton

President Ali has criticised Norton’s no-show at the meeting as an act of unwillingness and immaturity, and has made it clear that the country’s development will not be held hostage by political objectives.
“I am pursuing ‘One Guyana’. It is clear to me that those aspirations of mine may not be shared by Mr Norton, because he did not have the dignity, the professionalism, to even respond orally or in writing to an invitation by the Office of the President. If this is the approach of the Leader of the Opposition, I have no problems with that. My approach is to move this country forward. Our approach as a Government is to take this country forward, in keeping with the constitutional requirements, and we will not have those requirements held up or held hostage by political objectives,” the Head of State posited during a live Address to the Nation.
Meanwhile, Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall SC, who had accompanied President Ali on both occasions to meet with the Opposition Leader, said during his weekly programme – Issues In The News – on Tuesday that Government cannot wait any longer to make these appointments.
“Judges have to be appointed, teachers have to be promoted, Police (have to be promoted); important decisions have to be made… We cannot allow Mr Norton to ridicule this process and reduce it to one of the egocentricities that he seems to be engaged in the public domain,” Nandlall stated.
The Attorney General noted that Norton has displayed a lack of understanding of the importance of these appointments, as well as the role of his office, and he has further reassured that the Government and President Ali have complied with the provisions of the Constitution in relation to the appointments made last Tuesday, and will continue to do so with other similar appointments.
“No one will hold our Government at ransom and try to bully…and behave in any way that is contumacious and contemptuous, either of our Government or the important constitutional processes. That will not be tolerated… Every effort will continue to be made to engage Mr Norton in compliance with the Constitution. Wherever Mr Norton is unwilling to engage, the process will be proceeded with in accordance with the Constitution. The Constitution nor the law will ever contemplate a situation where the entire rule of law will be held to ransom because you have a recalcitrant or delinquent Leader of the Opposition who refuses to consult,” the Legal Affairs Minister has contended.