Following the acting Chief Justice (CJ), Roxanne George-Wiltshire’s dismissal of a legal challenge by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) against the constitutionality of President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson as head of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the party says it intends to appeal the decision and is prepared to go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
Moreover, the Party in a statement said that the ruling has paved the way for more “Executive unilateral appointments in situations where the Constitution requires agreement between the President and Leader of the Opposition.”
See their full statement Below:
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) wishes to express its profound disappointment in the decision of Chief Justice (ag), Roxanne George, in the matter filed by PPP Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of Justice (rtd) James Patterson as the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
This decision strikes at the heart of our Constitutional and electoral democracy. It has destroyed that delicate balance, which a Chairman is intended to bring to the Guyana Elections Commission. The framers of the Constitution intended this Chairman to be appointed through a mechanism, which involves an input from both the President and the Leader of the Opposition, to ultimately produce a person who enjoys the confidence of both. This is the reason why this Chairman is endowed with the power of a casting vote to break deadlocks at a bi-partisan Commission.
Unfortunately, this ruling, in violation of the letter and spirit of the Constitution, seeks to legitimize a unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman and has crushed that crucial balance in the makeup of the Commission. A unilateral appointment is contemplated by the Constitution only in the rare and exceptional circumstance, where the Leader of the Opposition fails to provide a list of nominees to the President.
We note, with deep regret, the great focus which the ruling placed on inconsequential issues and the glossing over of the more fundamental questions. Although the Chief Justice recognized in her ruling the mandatory obligation of the President to give reasons for the rejection of a list and found that a failure to give such reasons can cause a decision of the President arising there from to be set aside by a court.
We will be filing an appeal to challenge this decision in our ultimate quest to secure constitutional compliance. We are prepared to go all the way to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), if the situation so demands, to reverse what we consider an erosion of our Constitutional and electoral democracy. We will expend every effort to ensure that our appeals are expeditiously heard, more particularly, at the Guyana Court of Appeal, since the decision of the Chief Justice (ag) is already available.
It would be remiss if we do not recognise that this ruling may, or has, paved the way for more Executive unilateral appointments in situations where the Constitution require agreement between the President and Leader of the Opposition.