Unilateral selection of GECOM Chairman an affront to democracy- FITUG

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

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) has issued a strongly worded statement over President, David Granger’s, unilateral appointment of retired Judge, Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman for the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

According to FITUG, “The President’s selection, which came without any warning, must have been a shock to all right-thinking, democracy-loving Guyanese and has plunged our country into an obvious deep political and constitutional crisis which we have not experienced in recent times.”

See their full statement below:

The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) was very disturbed and most upset when it learnt of the seemingly high-handed move by President David Granger to unilaterally appoint a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

The President’s selection, which came without any warning, must have been a shock to all right-thinking, democracy-loving Guyanese and has plunged our country into an obvious deep political and constitutional crisis which we have not experienced in recent times. It is disbelieving that the President chose to act contrary to the clearly set out and unambiguous mechanism contained in the Constitution. The President who, on several occasions, committed himself to act in accordance with the Constitution, in our view, has waded into murky political waters which our country and people need not enter into and our still growing nation cannot benefit from.

His decision, from our point of view, casts a long, dark shadow on his and his Administration’s sincerity to uphold our Constitution and to maintain and preserve our cherished, even if fledging, democratic culture.

The President, who must have been advised by his comrades, is heading down a perilous path which we believe is not in the interest of our country and all Guyanese. It is our view that the President’s actions represent a reversal of the democratic advances we have made over the years. The FITUG believes that the newly-appointed GECOM Chairman, as matured and qualified as he may be, would have started out on a wrong footing and may well find it extra-ordinarily challenging to perform or receive the same level of acceptance, internally or externally, as enjoyed by his predecessors. This can never be a good thing especially when it concerns a matter that is as sensitive as that of our elections institution which has its well-known history. Further, we hold that the President’s arbitrariness could impact our citizens’ confidence in our other national institutions which are charged with protecting our well-being.

The appointment could be seen as a slap in the face of those who lead and actively supported the struggle for the restoration of democracy in our country. We note that some of those individuals are now-a-days firmly ensconced in the Administration and their views, we are sure, would be eagerly awaited by all Guyanese. We believe the unilateral appointment cannot stand up to any test of scrutiny and no justification can excuse the President’s decision on this matter.

President Granger, we believe, had a more than ample choice to select from among the suitable nominees put forward by Mr Jagdeo a GECOM Chairman who would have enjoyed the respect and confidence of all Guyanese.

The fact that the President has chosen to act outside of the list he received is not reflective of a commitment to protecting and further advancing our democratic culture and thrust, something he as President is charged with upholding. Furthermore, it gives rise to the notion that Mr Granger was simply engaged in a charade regarding the appointment of the GECOM Chairman.

The unilateral appointment harks back to a sad period in our country when democratic norms and principles were not upheld and were indiscriminately trampled upon. It is an era we felt we learnt painfully from and we felt that we had committed ourselves to put in the rearview mirror.

President Granger who is regarded as a historian, we would want to believe, is well aware of the circumstances which prevailed in those times as well as the difficulties and hardships the Guyanese people faced in that era. We recall that it was only after the sustained and dedicated struggles by Guyanese from all walks of life that free and fair elections prevailed and our democracy was restored in our country.

The decision by the President does not bode well for his character as a leader and history will not be kind to him. By this decision, we see him given credence to the notion that his Government and Party are going back to a time which we left behind.

We roundly and loudly condemn this move which does not portend for a bright future and a ‘Good Life’. We see it as walking back to a time we need not relive and experience again. We call on all Guyanese to raise their voices against this travesty and this attack on our democracy.



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