– Process not run on Jagdeo’s whims & fancies – Granger
The controversy over the unilateral appointment of retired Justice James Patterson, as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), gathered steam yesterday, with a court filing that seeks to have the appointment quashed. Meanwhile, President David Granger found himself fending off claims about the former Judge’s alleged connection with the People’s National Congress (PNC).
People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Executive Member and Member of Parliament, Zulfikar Mustapha through the law firm, Mohabir A. Nandlall and Associates, moved to the High Court claiming that among other things, Patterson was a pallbearer at the funeral for former President and PNC leader, Desmond Hoyte, and is a member of a social media group affiliated with the PNC.
Mustapha is seeking a declaration that Justice Patterson’s appointment last Thursday is in violation of and contrary to Article 161(2) of the Constitution and is accordingly unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect.
Further, Mustapha is seeking a declaration that Justice Patterson is not qualified to be appointed as the Chairman of GECOM in accordance with and in pursuance to Article 161(2) of the Constitution; and an order directing the President to choose a person from the eighteen names submitted to him by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.
Jagdeo had presented 18 names in total to President Granger, but none were deemed acceptable by the President, which led to Patterson’s appointment.
Mustapha is contending that Patterson cannot be or appear to be politically impartial and independent in the discharge of the functions of his office on several grounds, including that he is a member of the Advisory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy appointed by the President; an advisor to the Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs appointed by the President, the Attorney General or someone in the President’s Government; was appointed by the President to head a Commission of Inquiry into a prison break at Georgetown, Guyana, during the month of July, 2017; and was appointed by the President to be part of a panel reviewing applications for the positions of Chief Justice and Chancellor of the Judiciary.
The court filing, which names the Attorney General as the respondent, also sought to connect Patterson with the PNC, stating that he was a pallbearer at Merriman’s Funeral Home at the funeral of former President Hugh Desmond Hoyte. This was a service, according to court documents, which preceded the State Funeral, at which members and supporters of the PNC attended.
According to the filing, all the other pallbearers in relation to that part of the ceremony were PNC leaders, activists and supporters. Court documents also claim that Patterson is a member of the Facebook group, ‘Rally around the People’s National Congress (PNC)’.
The filing also cites that Patterson is a Reverend and a Christian activist, and therefore offends against one of the qualities of the Chairman of GECOM as stipulated by the President.
PPP/C DROVE DR. SURUJBALLY OUT
President Granger cautioned reporters not to judge the appointment from what occurred at the conclusion of the negotiations with the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo. He said the process started a year ago when the PPP/C started ‘to hound’ then GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally, out of office.
“They protested; they picketed and drove him out of office and this process has been dragged on for the entire year and the people of this country demand; the people of this country deserve; the people of this country need to have a functioning elections commission and the process cannot go on, on the whims and fancies of the Leader of the Opposition,” President Granger stated.
He stated that the constitution is very clear and he has acted at all material times within the Constitution.
As it relates to calls from the Bar Association of Guyana and other agencies for the President to publicly state why he rejected each of the 18 names, President Granger stated that this is not a requirement in the Constitution.
“Guyana is a small country; I have to be very careful about the judgments of persons’ characters and their capabilities. I have to be advised; I have not seen anything in the Constitution which requires me to do so,” the President stated.
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