GECOM Chair still unwell, medical leave extended- PRO

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GECOM Chair James Patterson

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice James Patterson has informed that his medical leave has been extended following a visit to his doctor on 7th
January, 2019.

This is according to a statement from GECOM Public Relations Officer Yolanda Warde who on Tuesday said that Patterson had earlier indicated that that he would resume duty on 8th
January, 2019 and to reconvene a statutory meeting after being absent since early December due to illness.

“While, the Chairman has been recovering well, he was advised by his doctor to have some additional rest to ensure that he fully recovers to effectively resume duty. The Chairman will provide further updates on his resumption” Warde explained.

Patterson, was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at a private city hospital in December of 2018.

Peoples’ Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) GECOM Commissioner Sase Gunraj in December said all meetings at GECOM were cancelled.

He had said that there is “a lot of work to be done” in preparation for General Elections.

Patterson was, in October 2017, appointed GECOM Chairman by President David Granger.

Immediately thereafter, PPP Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha had filed an injunction that sought to have the court rescind the unilateral appointment.

However, after several months of engaging the High Court, the Chief Justice had, on June 8, 2018, ruled that the Constitution of Guyana allows for the President to unilaterally appoint someone to fill the position of GECOM Chair.

The Opposition had also argued that the chairman was unqualified for the post, and had petitioned the court to order the President to choose a person from the 18 names submitted by Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo prior to Patterson’s appointment.

However, the Chief Justice, in her ruling, stated that there is nothing before the court to support a finding that the President had acted unlawfully or irrationally in resorting to the proviso to Art 161(2); and there is nothing to rebut the presumption that Justice Patterson is qualified to be appointed to the post of Chairman of GECOM.

According to the Chief Justice, the Opposition did not produce evidence to support the contention that Patterson was unqualified for the position. However, she did outline in her ruling that the President should have given reasons for his rejection of the 18 nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Jagdeo in three separate lists, all of whom were rejected.

Attorney Anil Nandlall, on behalf of his client, appealed the decision, contending that the learned Chief Justice had misconstrued and misinterpreted the role of the Leader of the Opposition in Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, and as such, he was asking the court to overturn the High Court ruling.

However, the Court of Appeal upheld the Chief Justice’s ruling. An appeal has since been filed in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

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