GECOM Chairman injunction: PPP secures early date for case

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-Opposition Leader holds consultations on matter 

A date has been set for the hearing of the matter involving the unilateral appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

President David Granger swearing in Justice (Retd) James Patterson to the post of GECOM Chairman last Thursday night

Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall told this publication that the matter will be heard before acting Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire on Thursday, November 16, 2017 at 13:15h.

The Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) had filed an injunction in the High Court on Monday to rescind the appointment on the grounds of unconstitutionality.

The Opposition MP said had planned to write the acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards requesting that the matter be heard expeditiously, while noting that the Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo will also make a similar request.

Nandlall has said that the injunction is seeking a declaration that Justice Patterson is not qualified to be appointed in provision with Article 161-2 of the Constitution of Guyana.

The injunction is also seeking an order to have the appointment of Justice Patterson as Chairman of GECOM quashed and directing the President to choose a person from the 18 names submitted to him.

The injunction was filed in the name of the Executive Secretary of the PPP and Member of Parliament (MP) Zulfikar Mustapha, who is an elected official that has legal authority.

Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall holding the injunction in his hand in the presence of PPP Member of Parliament Zulfikar Mustapha at the High Court Registry on Monday.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon told sections of the media that Government is not bothered by the PPP’s move to the High Court, stating that the Administration is more than ready to defend its decision.

Last Thursday evening, President Granger appointed Justice Patterson at State House following a meeting with Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo.

At that meeting, the President reportedly informed Jagdeo that he found unacceptable  the third list of nominees which was submitted several weeks ago.

He also stated that he paid careful attention to the ruling of Justice George-Wiltshire in the case, Marcel Gaskin vs the Attorney General before arriving at his decision.

Asked why he decided to hand pick 84-year-old Justice Patterson for this position, the President said it is because of his extensive experience as a former Chief Justice of Grenada.
“He has long judicial service and we feel that he is a fit and proper person. So it’s important for the reason I mentioned, that we bring this to an end and continue with the business of Guyana,” he added.

The decision has not gone down well with the political Opposition. During a press conference on Thursday last, Jagdeo announced that his party would be withdrawing its support from any form of cooperation with Government and would also mount a legal challenge to the appointment.

In addition to expressing his intention to raise the matter with the diplomatic community, Jagdeo indicted that the PPP will be calling on its support base countrywide for the national boycott.

Both civil society, the business community and trade unions have come out in strong opposition and have slammed the decision taken by President Granger. The Private Sector Commission has since condemned the decision as “dangerous” and a threat to democracy.

Meanwhile, the Leader of the Opposition, on Thursday met with the TUC, FITUG and Private Sector bodies for consultations on the GECOM matter at Office of the Leader of the Opposition, 304 Church Street, Queenstown,  Georgetown.

Consultations are expected to continue today, (Wednesday, October 25, 2017).

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