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…. appointments of Service Commissions top on the agenda
President Irfaan Ali is prepared to meet with the incoming Leader of the Opposition, Aubrey Norton on the appointments of the Service Commissions in accordance with the Constitution, the Vice President, Bharrat Jagdeo announced on Thursday.
Upon his ascension to Office in August 2020, President Ali continuously refused to meet with the then Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon, but his reported shift in position, comes approximately one week after Harmon stepped down, paving way for Norton, the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), to become Leader of Opposition, once he takes up a seat in the National Assembly.
For close to two years, President Ali had repeatedly indicated that he would not engage Harmon as Leader of the Opposition unless he publicly acknowledged that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) was legitimately elected to Government. During his Thursday press conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), the Vice President contended that President Ali’s position was misrepresented in the press. “I think the President was misquoted as saying that he did not want to meet the Leader of the Opposition,” Jagdeo told reporters.
He admitted however, that while President Ali indicated that he would not engage the Opposition Leader until there is public acceptance that the Government is legitimate, the President he said will abide by the Constitution, and consult with the Opposition Leader in the discharge of his responsibility.
However, with Norton set to take charge, Jagdeo said the President is prepared to meet. “…we anticipate before the end of February, the President will meet with the Leader of the Opposition if by then there is a new Leader of the Opposition,” Jagdeo said while noting that the Government is hopeful that the matter would be resolved shortly. According to him, it was useless to meet with Harmon as Opposition Leader.
“You would recall several times I said that engaging with Mr. Harmon might be an exercise in futility given that he may not have had a mandate from his party and we were proven correct because he never had a mandate from his party,” the Vice President said.
He assured, however, that once a new Opposition Leader is in place, the Government will accelerate plans to have the Service Commissions in place. “So once that person is in place we anticipate by the end of February we should have all of the Service Commissions in place. So the President will consult with the Leader of the Opposition on the Judicial Service Commission, and putting back that in place, the Public Service Commission, and the Teaching Service Commission,” Jagdeo said.
In the case of the Police Service Commission, it was noted that the Parliamentary Sub-Committee has submitted four nominees for approval by the Parliament of Guyana, subsequent to which, the names will be sent to the President.
“I suspect that once that comes, the President would then proceed immediately to appoint the Police Service Commission,” the President said.
He added: “So we anticipate that all of the Commissions would be fully operational by the end of February because the consultation with the Leader of the Opposition will take place.” Steps are also be taken to have the Integrity Commission in place as well as the Public Procurement Commission.