Business leaders under the umbrella group, Private Sector Commission (PSC), have warned of economic instability as fallout from the unilateral decision by President David Granger to appoint retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
Late Thursday evening, Patterson, 84, was sworn in by President Granger at State House, a move Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, described as unconstitutional and threatened to withdraw his party’s participation at the national level.
“The decision of the President to act unilaterally and independently of the submissions of the Leader of the Opposition, poses a clear threat to democracy and will inevitably divide the nation and lead to economic instability. It is a dangerous decision,” the PSC stated.
Jagdeo submitted 18 names for the president’s consideration. The most recent was on August 25, when he submitted a third list of names that included Major General Joseph Singh; Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Teni Housty; Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Sanjeev Datadin; Mrs. Annette Arjoon-Martins; Pastor Onesi La Fleur; and former Magistrate Mr. Krishnadatt Persaud.
“It is extremely unfortunate that his Excellency the President and the Leader of the Opposition has failed to find agreement on the appointment of the Chairman of the Elections Commission,” the PSC said.
Further, the PSC noted that throughout the entire process of exchange between the President and the Leader of the Opposition, it was hoped that the appointment of the Chairman would continue in an open and transparent manner and in accord with the requirements of the Constitution.
Since 1991, a formula established by former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter of the Carter Center, was used in the selection of the chairman.
This formula establishes the selection of six commissioners chosen by the president and the opposition leader. The president selects three commissioners and the opposition selects three while a seventh person, the Chairperson, is selected based on between the opposition and government.
The opposition leader has said the president has gone against a formula that has been in place for the past 20 years, and maintained that the constitution is clear that the appointee must originate from the leader of the opposition.
The National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) stated that it was very disturbed and most upset when it learnt of the appointment, referring to it as ‘a seemingly high-handed move by President Granger.
NAACIE noted that the President, who, on several occasions, committed himself to act in accordance with the Constitution, has waded into murky political waters which Guyana and its people need not enter into.
“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,” FTIUG stated.
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