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Bar Association: It’s back to court if Granger refuses to give reasons for rejecting Jagdeo’s nominees for GECOM Chairmanship ; Justice Patterson’s integrity questioned

The Chief Justice’s Chambers at the High Court.

The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) on Saturday threatened to take legal action to force President David Granger to disclose reasons for rejecting Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo’s 18 nominees and instead unilaterally appointing Retired Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

The Bar Association reasoned that the President could only exercise his constitutional right to appoint someone from the judicial category if, in keeping with the High Court’s ruling, he provides reasons for his decision to reject the Opposition Leader’s nominees.

“The Bar Council expects that reasons for rejecting the eighteen persons leading to the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson will be provided forthwith to avoid the necessity of further litigation on this issue on its part,” the association said in a statement.

The GBA had recently participated in a High Court interpretation of Guyana’s Constitution that had been requested by civil engineer, Marcel Gaskin.

According to the GBA, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire’s ruling is now part of Guyana’s laws unless a higher court overturns it and so the President has a duty to provide reasons for his rejection of the nominees.

“It should be obvious therefore that Guyanese cannot satisfy themselves that there is an objective and lawful basis for the President’s unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson to that office unless publicly stated reasons for the rejection of the eighteen persons found by the President to be unfit to hold the office of Chairman of the Elections Commission are provided.

Only if clear and detailed reasons are provided which show cause why each of the eighteen rejected persons is unacceptable to the President for appointment to the office of Chairman of the Elections Commission would it be possible to establish that the Leader of the Opposition failed to submit a list as provided for by the Constitution,” the  Bar Association added.

Saying that it was deeply concerned by the President’s unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman in more than 25 years, the GBA warned that the move could result in voter apathy. ” The unilateral appointment of the Chairman can lead to a loss of public confidence in the electoral process which is entirely undesirable having regard to Guyana’s experience in past elections,” the association said.

Meanwhile, the Bar Council took issue with the Alliance For Change for stating that each of the three lists supplied by the President fell short of what was required by the Constitution without providing legal submissions to the Chief Justice  “so that the precise legal reason each of the lists fell short of what was required by the Constitution could be publicly known.”

Retired Justice James Patterson receiving his instrument of appointment as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission from President David Granger.

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and the recently formed pressure civil society organisation, Reform-Inspire-Sustain-Educate (RISE) on Saturday questioned the management capacity and political impartiality of the GECOM Chairman.

 

“His record of public service, senior management or promotion of democratic standards and practices is unknown.  This calls into question whether he is indeed a more “fit and proper person” than many of those on the three lists submitted by the Leader of the Opposition,” the GHRA said.

Asked to respond to the human rights body’s criticism, Patterson would only say that, “that is not an accusation that I would distinguish with any response.”

He reiterated that his appointment as GECOM Chairman “is not my call; it is that exclusively of the President. It is that exclusively in his pocket. It has nothing to do with me.”

While the GECOM Chairman has already maintained that he is “apolitical”, RISE on Saturday labelled him as a

RISE EXECUTIVES: Jainaraine Singh, Marcel Gaskin, Renatta Chuck-a-Sang and Terrence Campbell.

“long-standing PNC supporter and comrade”.  Referring to unnamed critics, RISE said among the concerns raised are Patterson’s age “his clear allegiance to the PNC”, his recent profitable appointments by the PNC to several posts and the obvious fact of his acceptance of the office in the context of the current imbroglio reflects extremely poor on his own character”.

Contacted, a number of RISE executives could not immediately explain Patterson’s direct connection to the PNC, except that he was an advisor to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, and a Chairman of a Commission of Inquiry into the fiery death of more than one dozen prisoners at the Georgetown Prison.

In the wake of the refusal of the third list of nominees that includes Retired Major General Joseph Singh, a former GECOM Chairman himself, and Attorneys-at-Law, Teni Housty who RISE described as “all men  of  impeccable  character,  integrity and political impartiality,” that organisation stopped short of saying that Granger has a hidden motive for selecting Patterson.

“RISE believes that the insulting dismissal of these candidates by the President is not because the candidates  lacked  integrity  and independence, but specifically because they have integrity and could be relied upon to act in the high Office of Chairman of the Elections  Commission  with  independence  and impartiality. So why reject men and women of integrity? Is there not only one plausible answer?,” the organisation said.

Like the Alliance For Change (AFC), RISE said it would be pushing for wider participation and involvement in selecting the Chairman and six other GECOM Commissioners. “RISE believes that Civil Society must play a pivotal role in  selecting  nominees  for appointment as Chairman and Commissioners of the Elections Commission so as to depoliticize the process. RISE will now advocate vigorously for this change in the upcoming constitutional reform process.”

For its part, the GHRA raised suspicions about whether a plan is being hatched to rig the 2020 general elections, as had been the case in the 1970s and 1980s. The PNC lost the 1992 general and regional elections that had been certified internationally as free and fair. “The decision by President Granger to set aside the constitutionally agreed process revives memories of the previous PNC-led administration which, due to its flagrant rigging of elections, cemented Guyana’s reputation as the democratic pariah of the Caribbean during that period.  Are we heading in that direction again?”

Political Science Professor, David Hinds has said the selection of Justice Patterson all came down to race- the time has come for the selection of an Afro-Guyanese and someone in whom the President has confidence. He has said that any President would select a Chairman in whom he or she has confidence.

At the same time, he has said that the unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chairman has poisoned the political environment resulting to the extent that he does not expect consensus on major issues such as the oil and gas sector and constitutional reform.

  • Gtloyal

    Ok, go to court and let’s have all Gecom’s activities and elections suspended until we get a decision … let’s say after ten years of litigation, we might have the last decision from the CCJ. Who from the Bar would get these cases and how much would their fees amount to? Don’t grudge them.
    The reasons giving here by these aspiring politicians for not accepting Retired Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are rather jejune. They can’t be more naive, simplistic, and superficial in their proposal either. The most they may achieve is an order from the court for the President to explain why he did what he did. He will give an explanation because he is a believer in the rule of law. But because he was within his constitutional rights, the courts can do no more but allow him to proceed. Or do they want an order for the process to start over, let’s say, with another list from the opposition followed by another rejection, this time with explanation? That may even be convenient for the President. And forget the cost, the least of which would be monetary. Later everyone can say we did things the right way.
    With a Bar Association that seemingly wants to be more British than the queen and a newborn RISE still living in its infantile dreamworld we now also have a GHRA with political aspirations alongside former presidents.
    By 2099 we should have things right. Go ahead brave …and don’t even think about changing the constitution!

  • Your Brown Sugar

    These Civic Society groups are all suddenly finding their mouths. The webs of PPP influence has spread widely in their 23 years. The Government was changed in May 2015 but the Regime (webs of power) did not.

    • Truth !

      u sound like burnt sugah

  • Lancelot Brassington

    My main concern is Mr Patterson’s age. With regard to his ability to manage, from where I sit Joe Singh is the only nominee with relevant or meaningful managerial experience comparable to his. The man was a Chief Justice. A Chief Justice has legal and managerial functions to discharge. Steve Surujbally was a veterinarian and Doodnauth Singh was a lawyer in private practice. Were they ever required to manage anything other than their own affairs before becoming Gecom chairmen? If they were, is this information in the public domain?

    • Truth !

      age is just a number duncy
      his connections r most important

      • Lancelot Brassington

        If you could string together three sentences I might be able to figure out what the heck you are trying to say.

  • Lancelot Brassington

    ‘Contacted, a number of RISE executives could not immediately explain Patterson’s direct connection to the PNC, except that he was an advisor to Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, and a Chairman of a Commission of Inquiry into the fiery death of more than one dozen prisoners at the Georgetown Prison.’

    Most amusing. Seems like some IQs need to RISE.

    • Truth !

      seems ur iq is below par

    • Col123

      Lance… why on earth do you think that Patterson is no pnc thru and thru… most intelligent and hard working sensible folks vote thinking about their pocketbooks …and how many Guyanese fall under that category?… instead… they vote apnu jhaatu for kith and kin…

  • Truth !

    oh meh mummah
    baap ray baap
    apolitical = adviser 2 d ag … chairnman of a pnc coi
    if he had any decency and credibility in view of all the imbroglio he would do d honorable ting and resign

    • rs dasai

      Trurh.
      Only if I have ‘honour’ , I can use it.

  • Gtloyal

    I have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, I love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me. May the Lord forgive you, for you know not what you do. Every voice raised up to accuse me shall be silenced. My vindication will come from the LORD. So don’t waste your time sending out curses.
    It’s not surprising that you see racism where it is not. It’s not surprising that you suddenly, after decades, remember the democratic rights of the people while you spew hate to those that do not think or believe as you do, to the point of seeking their destruction. What a way to practice democracy. Democracy a la PPP!

    • Col123

      Why would you be quoting the laws o gawd pon the chap.., he too also realize you are an loyal racist ass kisser

      • Gtloyal

        I’ll ask you again: Can’t you BJ stooges ever come out of your little world and take your mind off ass licking and kissing and your other vulgarities and talk about something else?
        Anyway, call me whatever makes you feel good, I am happy and have been so since 5/15.
        Go to Court and make yourselves happy.

        • Col123

          Live in the real world is not easy for you padna… that closet works well with you …. you deh in it … enjoy it…

          • Gtloyal

            There you go again. What a shame.

          • Col123

            You live with your conscience if you have…I don’t have any reason to be worried about mine!

          • Gtloyal

            Is there an app I can download yo make you go away?

          • Col123

            Do you really want an answer?….I’ll let it go…that DeCeo dude said enough!

  • Col123

    The dumb sss chap is my gtloyal friend bro… you go and get your own pnc ass kisser padna

  • Col123

    Boy … you must be a lieyer…Why would 51% of the population give a horses arse what you think?…… OK … you have a right to say it… I know…. we celebrating the Holy man fitness and propaness decision…and you with you doom and gloom…stay in a carna leh we run the country bro…

    • Ashwan Singh

      You were quiet for a bit ! Don’t make me get you to join me in prayer again! LOL.

      • Col123

        Couldn’t get net access bro… but I see my brothas tearing you another…

  • Col123

    Hey Raj… I take exception to some of your statements…Emile is not a racists… he writes well , but he writes a lot of crap!… pulling references from his castles in the sky where he lives… his grandfather came off a boat from India… but if you believe that…I gat some land at the conservancy back dam to sell you!… Elections will be held… the grip on ongoing dictatorship is in place with kith and kin resources.. I am sorry for my navel string…