-Despite ‘distancing itself’ from the selection process
The minority party in the coalition Government, Alliance for Change (AFC) had advised President David Granger not to select a new Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman from the lists submitted by Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.
This revelation was highlighted in correspondence seen by the publication, where Chairman of the AFC, Khemraj Ramjattan, told the executive of the party that he had advised the president not to select a new chairman from the 18 nominees submitted by the Opposition Leader.
In the internal party correspondence dated October 22, 2017 sent at 22:18 h (10:18pm) Ramjattan stated that he told President Granger that he did not support Jagdeo’s nominees on the second list of GECOM nominees.
He went on to say in the email that he advised the Head of State that he should proceed to name a person, who fits the Constitutional requirements.
“I did express my opinion to the President at a Cabinet break some time back, after the second list from Jagdeo, that I was not comfortable with any of those names presented. He had asked what I thought of the names.
“I then went on to advise that if he was also of that opinion, then he is within his right to proceed to name a person who fits the constitutional requirements as he is empowered to do under the proviso in that same article 161,” Ramjattan said in the email.
The email also said that AFC leader “Raphael [Trotman] who was present, expressed a similar sentiment.”
Meanwhile, reports have since surfaced in other sections of the media where Ramjattan confirmed that he indeed wrote the email.
According to one online media entity, when he was asked about the email given that his party had distanced itself from reports stating that the it was not involved in the selection of the GECOM chairman, the AFC chairman is quoted by the media entity as saying, “‘ya” journalists like to deduce a lot” as he walked way.
President David Granger unilaterally appointed retired Justice James Patterson after rejecting all of the nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Jadgeo.
Patterson, who was an advisor in the Legal Affairs Ministry, was sworn in just a few hours after President Granger had met with the Opposition Leader briefly on October 19.
The decision has not gone down well with the political opposition. A challenge to the appointment has already been filed in the High Court, and that case will be called for hearing in January 2018. That challenge seeks to revoke Patterson’s appointment.
A number of bodies, including the Guyana Bar Association, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), have come out in condemnation of the President’s decision.
Criticism has also come from the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and members of the diaspora, among others.