Rejected appointments of Chancellor, CJ…respectfully declines to state reasons for non-agreement publiclyBy Shemuel FanfairOne day after rejecting President David Granger’s proposed candidates for Chancellor of the Judiciary and Chief Justice, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Thursday opted against giving reasons for rejecting the nominees on the basis that he will not be dragging people’s names through the mud.He said his action would be unlike what the President had done with the 18 names of nominees for Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) which was eventually “unilaterally” handed to retired Judge, James Patterson.“If required at some time in the future, I can provide reasons but I chose not to do so because I’m not in the business of judging people in the public domain. These are distinguished individuals who had long careers in the Judiciary and I therefore don’t want to do like what the President did with the GECOM nominees – drag people’s names through the mud,” Jadgeo strongly noted.In a letter issued late Wednesday, Jadgeo citing Article 127 (1) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana contended that he is “unable to offer his agreement” to the top two judicial posts, thereby rejecting the appointment of Justice Kenneth Benjamin as Chancellor Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards as Chief Justice. He indicated to reporters on Thursday that he is not interested in ascribing ratings to the various nominees.“No, I’m not going to rate anybody; I’m not a rating agency to say this persons is number eight or number five. I don’t want to do that; I prefer to deal with these people respectfully,” he stressed.He however pointed out that having such a career does not give one automatic qualification for the top judicial posts. He also berated reports by State media agencies that he was a no-show at the meeting at the President’s Office on Wednesday evening to discuss the matter. He also clarified that his absence was due to non-confirmation by Minister of State Joseph Harmon who did not respond to correspondence so that why he opted to dispatch another letter that confirmed his objection.“I said to him (Harmon), my positions are outlined in the letter and should there be a need to meet further, we’re available [but] I never heard back from him and then around 6pm I saw the photo on their Facebook page saying that I didn’t show up at the meeting, so clearly this Government loves a distraction,” Jagdeo expressed.This distraction, according to the former President, is part of the current Administration’s attempt to gain millage out of the issue.“I will just treat this as what it is: an attempt to score cheap political points by the President and the people surrounding him,” he claimed.Jagdeo had earlier warned that even though the President has to make the first move to resolve the decade-long non-appointment of a substantive Chancellor and Chief Justice, he would not allow himself to be coerced into accepting nominees just to fix the situation.The last meeting held in January was held in keeping with Article 127 (1) of the Constitution which speaks to the appointment of the Chancellor and Chief Justice. It states that both the Chancellor and Chief Justice shall be appointed by the President, acting after obtaining the agreement of the Leader of the Opposition. The provision was a key aspect of the 2001 amendment to the instrument.President Granger had announced at his first press conference in two years, in December last year, that he has accepted a proposal from a committee that had been set up to review and interview applicants interested in the top judicial post after it advertised locally, regionally and internationally.Justice Cummings-Edwards had previously severed in the post of acting Chief Justice before being promoted to her current post in an acting capacity. Once she is confirmed as substantive Chief Justice, it means that her current successor, acting Chief Justice Roxane George, SC, will be removed. It is not clear in what capacity Justice George will serve should Government move ahead with the appointments as was indicated by State Minister Joseph Harmon.