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Constitutional appointments: Norton says CVs of nominees important for meaningful consultations

Constitutional appointments: Norton says CVs of nominees important for meaningful consultations

President Dr Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton met for the first time on Friday to discuss constitutional appointments. Also at the meeting were Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall SC and Opposition MP Roysdale Forde

With President Dr Irfaan Ali and Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton slated to meet for a second time next week on several constitutional appointments, the Chairman of the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition has stated that information such as the Curriculum Vitae (CVs) of the nominees being considered is critical to having meaningful consultations as required by the laws of Guyana.

Norton was on Friday invited to a meeting with President Ali at the Office of the President, during which the two political leaders agreed that the consultations going forward will be guided by the provisions of Constitution of Guyana.

The meeting focused on the appointments to be made at the Integrity Commission, the Judicial Service Commission, Police Service Commission and Teaching Service Commission.

According to the Constitution of Guyana, members of these Commissions shall be appointed by the President “…acting after meaningful consultation with the Leader of the Opposition”.

However, prior to the engagement, the Opposition Leader had requested additional information on the names under consideration but was asked, by Governance and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Gail Teixeira, to specify the details being requested.

“At the meeting held [on Friday], the Leader of the Opposition clarified that the information that is being requested are the Curriculum Vitae (CVs) of the persons under consideration and the President agreed to make those CVs available within two days,” a joint missive issued during Friday’s engagement detailed.

Following the nearly three-hour-long meeting, Norton confirmed to reporters outside the Office of the President that a commitment was made to provide him the CVs of persons being nominated for appointments to these critical agencies.

“Basically, we agreed to engage, and we engaged, and we have now agreed that documents would be provided to us in keeping with the Constitution and we will do an assessment, and then engage again,” the Opposition Leader stated.

Asked about the importance of CVs requested, Norton explained that it would allow him to better participate in “meaningful consultation” on the appointments in accordance with the constitutional provisions.

“When I see the CVs, I’ll tell you why they’re important. Because you need to know about people… I’m saying to you, first of all, we need CVs. The whole process of ‘meaningful consultation’ has been defined in law. In fact, in the second paragraph, it says clearly that you need time to assess, et cetera; so, the CVs are needed, and once we get the CVs, we will do what we have to do,” he stated.

Only last month, the National Assembly approved the nomination of four individuals to be appointed members of the Police Service Commission, which is responsible for appointing and disciplining Police ranks who are above the rank of Inspector. These nominees include: businessman Ernesto Choo-a-Fat; businessman, Attorney-at-Law Lloyd Mark Conway; businessman Hakeem Mohamed, and Pastor Patrick Findlay.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader, who was only appointed to the post last month after being sworn-in as a Member of Parliament, further told reporters when asked if he was satisfied with Friday’s meeting, that the issue is not about satisfaction but rather following the provisions of the Guyana Constitution.

“All I want to see is everything occur in keeping with law, in keeping with the Constitution. I think we’ve been able to make this point and in moving forward, we will operate in keeping with the Constitution and what meaningful consultation means,” he said.

This is the first meeting between President Ali and the APNU/AFC Opposition since his assumption to office in August 2020 – following the protracted and controversial March 2, 2020 elections that saw attempts to deny the will of the Guyanese people.

President Ali last month told reporters that he will soon be inviting the Opposition Leader to discuss matters that the Constitution mandates both leaders to consult on including critical appointments of the service commissions as well as top judicial posts, that is, the Chancellor and Chief Justice.

But Norton, who is the Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) – the leading party in the APNU/AFC coalition Opposition – had contended that he wants to have broad consultations with the Head of State on other issues such as good governance.

The Opposition Leader, however, did not respond to questions about whether the talks of Friday went beyond constitutional appointments.

During Friday’s meeting, President Ali was joined by Attorney General and Legal Affairs Minister Anil Nandlall, SC, while Norton was accompanied by Opposition Member of Parliament Roysdale Forde.

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