GECOM debacle: Opposition pulls out of Border Commission

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The People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) has pulled out of the Guyana Border Commission in retaliation to Head of State, David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice (rtd) James Patterson, as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Thursday.

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo made the announcement shortly after meeting with the President ahead of the appointment.

The move comes as part of the Party’s decision to embark on a process of non-cooperation on the part of the Opposition – part controlled regions included.

According to the Opposition Leader, a decision was taken this past week to take part in a special caucus of the Border Committee given a recent development.

Guyana and Venezuela have in recent years been locked in a stand-off over the Spanish speaking country’s claim over the Essequibo.

Jagdeo told reporters his Party will no longer be taking part in the talks – a direct response to the President’s unilateral appointment.

That body is scheduled to meet in the coming week to address issues related to the border controversy involving Venezuela.

As it relates to participation at the local government level, Jagdeo disclosed that this too will be withdrawn until there is a resolution to the crises.

The PPP/C won the popular vote during Local Government Elections (LGE) held in 2016, capturing 25,000 more votes than the APNU/AFC under the proportional representation (PR) component of the polls.

According to the Opposition Leader, the clandestine manner with which the President has flouted the Constitution to swear in Justice Patterson under the cover of darkness, “represents the modus operandi of this Government to do things in secrecy, in the dark and to impose decisions that are undemocratic on the people of this country.”

Jagdeo was adamant the party will begin mobilising its supporters across the country, saying “right now, this Government will not have our cooperation on any issue, any issue in this country until they start complying with our Constitution.”

President David Granger presents the Instrument of Appointment as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to Justice Patterson at State House

The Opposition Leader when asked to elaborate on the threat to galvanise the party supporters into non-cooperation with the Government, said “it takes several forms.”

He disclosed to media operatives that, “we will be meeting with the leadership across the country; there are several NDS and municipalities and regions that we control and we will have to have them go into a mode of non-cooperation.”

Jagdeo, on Friday held wide-ranging consultations with the Parliamentary Opposition Members, Regional Democratic Councillors, members of the PPP Central and Executive Committees, and the three Opposition-appointed Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioners.

The gathering resolved to incrementally roll out, inter alia, a series of measures over time:

* Challenge, by Court action in the courts and at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), as necessary, the steps undertaken by President Granger to subvert and thwart the spirit, letter, and intent of the Constitution

* Sensitize the Guyanese people to the on-going threat to democracy and the Guyana Constitution, and resist the stealthy move to an authoritarian state

* Undertake meetings countrywide to sensitize the Guyanese people, and use other means, including social media and media, to the reasons for non-cooperation and on the progress of the campaign

*  Brief and consult civic society bodies which had participated in consultations which produced the 18 individuals whose names were submitted by the Leader of the Opposition to the President for the post of Chairman of the GECOM between December 2016 and August 2017

*  Consistently and regularly engage with national and regional stakeholders to hold Government accountable, and ensure that democracy is not derailed

*  Alert and advise the Guyanese diaspora on the threat to democracy and the continued deprivations wreaked on the Guyanese people by the PNC-led APNU/AFC

*  Continue the fight in some aspects of the National Assembly and at the GECOM to protect the integrity of the electoral machinery, and ensure that conditions for free, fair and transparent elections are restored and met, both constitutionally and in the composition and practices of the institutions and persons tasked with this vital role

Undertake meetings, in and out of Guyana, with the representatives of foreign countries and international institutions, to expose the extent and import of constitutional violations by the Granger APNU/AFC regime

* Launch picketing exercises, petitions, appeals, vigils, marches and other peaceful forms of protest to highlight the issues relating to the undemocratic, unilateral, and illegal appointment of the Chairman of the GECOM

* Adopt a policy of critical non-participation in APNU/AFC governmental activities throughout the length and breadth of Guyana.

The Opposition Leader was in fact adamant the fight should be one to engage all of the citizenry since “this country will become pariah again, pariah if we go down this route like it was in the past.”

He told media operatives that President Granger is to be held responsible for the consequences of any non-cooperation and plunging the country into a “constitutional crisis.”

“The President must be responsible for this, it’s not us,” he said and questioned “should I compromise on the fight for freedom in this country, not freedom for PPP people, freedom for all the people of Guyana because that is what is at stake here.”

Jagdeo said, among other things, that “we are not going to cut corners on the fight for democracy or freedom in this country.”

 

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