Appeal Court challenge to the GECOM Chairmanship ruling commences

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The High Court decision which upheld President’s David Granger unilateral appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is being challenged at the Appeal Court where the first of several hearings commenced on Wednesday.

File photo: President David Granger swearing in Justice (Retd) James
Patterson to the post of GECOM Chairman following his unilateral appointment

Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall appeared before the court on behalf of People’s Progressive Party Executive Secretary and Member of Parliament, Zulfikar Mustapha in whose name the challenge was mounted against a ruling handed down by Acting Chief Justice, Roxanne George.

On June 8, 2018, Justice George ruled that the Constitution of Guyana allows for the President to unilaterally appoint someone to fill the position of GECOM Chair. The appointment was the centre of much contention as the Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo presented several lists of nominees to the President which were all rejected.

This appeal comes just months ahead of the November 12, 2018 Local Government Elections and subsequent Regional and General Elections which are due by August 2020.

In arguments Nandlall says he put forward on Wednesday, he premised the dates of the upcoming polls as just cause for the matter to be expedited. He added that he in fact filed an application requesting an early determination of the matter just in case it reaches the level of Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall and current Attorney General Basil Williams

Nandlall contended that a decision should be rendered before the elections since “the entire litigation” would become futile.

The former Attorney General referenced the Barbadian elections where a challenge beginning from the High Court of Barbados to the CCJ, lasted just a few weeks which permitted electors to cast their votes.

The overall thrust of Nandlall’s argument is that this case raises issues which affect “the very bedrock of our constitutional democracy and it is directly related to the integrity of our electoral machinery.”

He claimed that even though he filed his appeal on June 12, Attorney General (AG)Basil Williams only filed his Affidavit in Answer on Tuesday and it was served to him Wednesday.

The case will continue before the Appeal Court this Friday at 10:00h where the AG Williams will continue arguments at the highest local court.

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