PPP Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha has been granted leave by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to challenge the decision of the Guyana Court of Appeal to uphold the appointment of retired judge James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
As part of the process, the applicant in the matter Mustapha/the appellant, has been ordered by the Registrar of Guyana’s Supreme Court to lodge the sum of $759,000 as security for costs within the next 90 days and within that same period to satisfy the requirements of Rule 10.6 (2) (b) of the amended CCJ Rules.
Those rules stipulate that a list of the documents which he proposes should be included in his record of appeal and provide to the proper officer within a period not exceeding ninety days.
Last month, the Court of Appeal upheld President David Granger‘s decision to unilaterally appoint retired Justice James Patterson to the office of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, (GECOM) as constitutional.
The unanimous decision was handed down by Appeal Court Justices Chancellor Yonette Cummings – Edwards, Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory.
A similar ruling was handed down by Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire.
She ruled that the President enjoys the right to reject the list of names provided by Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo, and unilaterally appoint someone from the judicial category as Chairman of GECOM, as outlined in Article 161 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana.
The PPP has been challenging President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of the 84-year-old retired judge made on October 19, last year.
The party’s lawyer Anil Nandlall had told the Appeal Court that Article 16 of the Constitution was amended to make provisions for the two main political groups to have an input in selection of top officials on the elections commission.
The amendments were made based on recommendations by former US President Jimmy Carter to create a more balanced and democratic system of governance for GECOM.
He explained that what the crafters of the legislation had in mind was for Guyana to move away from unilateralism in the appointment of GECOM.
“In addition to the six commissioners; three from the ruling party and three from the opposition, the amendments provide for the appointment of a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, who shall be appointed based on approval from both the President and Leader of the Opposition.”
According to Nandlall, the Carter formula was intended and designed to create, as far as possible, a politically consensual and balanced Elections Commission.
“The person of the Chairman must enjoy the confidence of both the President and the Opposition Leader…That‘s the magic of the Carter formula.”
He noted, too, that the chairman holds a critical position in the structure of GECOM.
“The Chairman holds the casting vote, in case there is a deadlock between the opposition and government commissioners on a particular matter.
This Chairman comes from a list of six which emanates from the Leader of the Opposition but which must find the acceptability of the President from which he is empowered to choose one.
The lawyer had argued that the President’s interpretation of the proviso rule in Article 16 of the constitution was therefore flawed.
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