Nov 07, 2017 News
Transparency Institute of Guyana Inc. (TIGI) has cautioned that the unilateral decision taken by President David Granger, to appoint retired Justice James Patterson as the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), without justifying the rejection of the eighteen nominees, is not a progressive step for Guyana.
The watchdog group stated that the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo, has not helped democracy either, by selecting some persons who would have been clearly unacceptable to the President.
“By so doing, he would also have engendered a substantial amount of distrust about any of the persons he submitted,” TIGI stated.
According to the group, the appointment is not a progressive step for Guyana, both with respect to democratic principles and accountability, and it has created a precedent that will be convenient when it is, and inconvenient when it is not.
“The activation of such vagaries in the process of filling the post that might be considered the custodian of our democracy is indeed a grave consequence,” the group noted.
Further, TI stated that some areas of the law seem grey and those areas have been bludgeoned into the consciousness of citizens in this recent search for the GECOM Chair. TIGI shared the view that there is still room for the meaning and intent of the law to be fully clarified by the court.
“TIGI calls upon both parties and the rest of civil society to craft a different formula for the selection of the elections commission chairman. We are well aware that there have been calls throughout the years, since it was first applied, to replace it. We wish to remind that the formula was agreed for single use only,” TIGI stated.
President Granger appointed Justice Patterson after deeming the third list of nominees submitted by Jagdeo unacceptable.
The group noted that the Chairman of GECOM can be regarded as the proximate custodian of democracy, of which elections represent one of the most important components. “It is imperative that the appointment of the Chairman who presides over elections and elections processes observe and adhere to the highest standards of transparency and accountability.”
TIGI also believes that the selection and appointment of the Chair would be best done within a framework and in a manner that inspires confidence in the office of the Chair, and in the processes and results of elections.
The group stated that the missteps in and deliberate distortions of any part of the appointment process, is something that should worry all Guyanese, especially given the problems that Guyana has had with elections; from the widespread charges of “elections rigging” under the old PNC regime to the more recent accusations of list manipulations and incorrect assignment of seats under the PPP/C.
As the debate rages on, TIGI holds that the court is the final authority on the interpretation of the law.
“The ruling of the court needs to be successfully challenged if it is perceived to be incorrect in order for it to be disregarded,” TIGI stated.
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