– over President’s unilateral and ‘undemocratic’ appointment of GECOM Chair
Leader of the Opposition Bharrat 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 discussions focused on the unilateral appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM by President David Granger on Thursday night and the “response to this undemocratic, unlawful, unconstitutional act by the President”, and, the extent of the “non-cooperation” actions announced by the Leader of the Opposition in his press statement on the evening of October 19, 2017.
According to a statement from the PPP, the gathering unanimously endorsed the position that the appointment of retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM was unconstitutional, illegal and undemocratic. Furthermore, it was also agreed that this was a total departure from the “Carter Formula’, which, since 1992, entrenched a bipartisan GECOM, headed by a Chairperson, chosen from lists of persons submitted by the Leader of the Opposition in accordance with the Guyana Constitution.
“This latest unilateral act by the President to appoint retired Justice Patterson is another act in a long list of examples of executive abuses and lawlessness, we, the Guyanese people, have witnessed since the installation of the APNU/AFC Coalition government. The consistent and methodical by-passing of the letter and spirit of the constitution has been repeatedly seen with the undermining of the separation of powers of the executive, legislature and judiciary, the non-appointment of the Integrity Commission, the interference in the Police, Public and Judicial Service Commissions and the blatant violation of the Procurement Act and regulations,” the PPP stated.
Compounding these untenable developments is the downturn in the economy due to the irresponsible and reckless polices of the government, which are severely impacting on the livelihood of practically all Guyanese.
The stance of ‘non-cooperation’ with the APNU/AFC government was unanimously approved as the only viable means to expose the unilateral and dictatorial Granger-led autocratic, corrupt cabal stacked with past military and police officers and known political activists placed in strategic areas of the government who come out of the failed Burnham/PNC government.
“Today, we have seen yet another development in the courts with regard to charges being brought against members of the banking sector. This development along with Granger’s unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chairman have delivered another blow to the already deteriorating environment for investment and confidence of foreign and local investors. This will result in a further loss of jobs. 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, 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 to resist the stealthy move to an authoritarian state;
- Undertake meetings countrywide to sensitize the Guyanese people and to
use other means, including social media and media, to the reasons, for noncooperation, 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 the democracy and the continued deprivations wrecked 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.
“We have also noted the sycophantic ramblings of the AFC apologists in their response to the Leader of the Opposition. So desperate to prove their loyalty to the APNU, the AFC accused the Leader of the Opposition of an ‘unpatriotic stance of non-cooperation and civil disobedience’ and promised to hold him personally responsible. The Leader of the Opposition shall not be intimidated by the corrupt cowards of the AFC whose only interest in governance is their personal well-being and enjoyment of the perks of office.”
The People’s Progressive Party said it has been down this path before in similar situations in the past, and, “we, as a party and our supporters, have prevailed and we overcame with the restoration of democracy on October 5, 1992. We are confident and optimistic that we shall overcome again and restore democracy again to our beloved country.”
The PPP/C /Civic calls on all Guyanese, both as individuals and institutions, to become fully acquainted with the issue of the unilateral appointment of GECOM Chairman Patterson; the repeated assaults on democracy; and support the exercise of the right to freedom of speech and peaceful protests in consistent interventions to protect Guyana’s democracy.