Court dismisses charges against GECOM Chair, Govt Commissioners

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Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan this morning dismissed private criminal charges filed against Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Justice James Patterson and the three Government Commissioners: Vincent Alexander, Desmond Trotman and Charles Gobin.
The charges were filed against the men for breaching the Constitution of Guyana, by not following Article 106 which stipulates that elections are to be held within three months of the passage of a no-confidence motion.
The charges were brought by Marcel Gaskin, the brother of Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin. He is being represented by Attorneys Sanjeev Datadin and Ganesh Hera.
The Chief Magistrate, in her ruling, said the charge has no purpose and appears to be frivolous.
But Datadin intends to pursue the matter in the High Court.

“You can’t breach a constitution, but if people get together and say that is what they are doing then it is a criminal offense at common law and under section 21 it carries an offense of one year imprisonment but of course that’s not mandatory. But when the no confidence motion was passed by the National Assembly on the 21 of December, it meant 90 days later they should have had an election. Everyone in Guyana is aware that that is not happening, the people who are charged with bringing an election is the elections commission and they are not taking any steps to do what they should be doing” Datadin said.

According to Datadin, his client was not partial in filing the charged against the four defendants but did so because the Chairman and Commissioners are those that voted to not conduct elections as is constitutionally mandated.

As the matter was being heard in the Magistrates’ Courts, several protesters stood outside of the Court calling for the coalition Government to call elections.

According to one protesters, she has lost faith in the APNU/AFC coalition Government and is calling for them to do as is mandated.

Another protester, Jermaine Gentle said that as a citizen of Guyana, he is calling on the leaders of the country to respect the constitution.

With the Government’s defeat through a no-confidence motion, the next steps are outlined out in the Constitution of Guyana. Clause 7 of Article 106 of the Constitution of Guyana states that, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”

President David Granger and Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo had initially committed to following the provisions outlined in the Constitution, facilitating early elections and engaging in dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo but have since changed their position.

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