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Cease comments on the High Court challenge to the GECOM Chairman’s appointment

Attorney General, Basil Williams (in black and backing camera) speaking with pro-government supporters at the north-eastern gate of the High Court compound.

Chief Justice, Roxane George-Wiltshire Thursday urged lawyers for both sides in a case challenging the constitutionality of the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) to stop expressing opinions in the media about the matter.

She asked the parties to cease “trying the case in the court of public opinion”.

Her call was issued before she set a timetable for Attorney General, Basil Williams and and his legal team as well as Attorney-at-Law for the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Anil Nandlall and his team to file court papers before the next court date set for January 5, 2018.

“Persons are free to comment but they must not be contemptuous,” she said to a packed courtroom that included many supporters of the governing A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition and the PPP. Justice George-Wiltshire asked the legal representatives “not to engage the public gathering in this case”.

The Chief Justice said “I don’t want to put a gag order” but made it known that she was disturbed by the headlines in many of the news reports, some of which has included opinions on the case that is now before the Constitutional Court of the High Court.

PPP and governing coalitiom supporters in the Chief Justice’s Court before her arrival and the calling of the case. More persons eventually filled the benches to capacity by the time the proceedings began.

She called on the lawyers from both sides to respect her comments and added that she has no issue with comments made on decisions.

When the legal teams reappear before the Chief Justice early next year, it would be for clarifications and elaboration of any points.

The PPP, through its Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, wants the High Court to quash President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as GECOM Chairman on several grounds.

The main reason being cited by the PPP is that the President did not select any of the 18 names that had been submitted by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo throughout almost one year before. The PPP also contends that Patterson is biased because he is a member of a pro-People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Facebook Page and he was part of an inner circle of top PNCR executives as pallbearers of the body of late party leader, Desmond Hoyte.

Solicitor General, Kim Kyte has since, on behalf of the Attorney General, filed court papers rejecting all of the PPP’s grounds.

Outside the High Court building on Charlotte Street, a small group of pro-government supporters gathered and at times made their views known quite loudly.

After the case was adjourned, Attorney General Williams, who is the Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) went downstairs and told the gathering to leave.

  • Col123

    Mek some noise brothas… me pro government supportas… put you hands togetha and give a warm welcome to anil and basil….sound like them cheap comedy show … mandatory one drink per person at table!

    • rs dasai

      Is the CJ trying to muzzle public opinion? And why?

      • Col123

        I think it is protocol and her demanding this is a way to respect the courts …and those who make those godly decisions….. The CJs usually behave as if they are couple levels above lay people…gosh..I have met some Generals who do that..

  • Gtloyal

    Waste of the people’s time and money.
    Will it be constitutional for the court to tell the president something so personal as who is not unacceptable to him? How will the court know what’s in the man’s mind? But since this is Guyana, where everything is possible, if it does tell him, would that make the person not unacceptable to him? No? Then it would not be in conformity with what the constitution says!
    Remember, also, that the person must be not unacceptable for the job and not in a personal way as some who should have known better, seemed to have taken it.
    Regardless of what the PPP wants or what the Courts decide, it will only complicate matters and maybe lay the grounds for more lists. There is no reasonable “solution” but to change what’s in the constitution.

    • rs dasai

      And also what the PNC wants?

      • Gtloyal

        If the PPP can’t take it then they must take solace in the fact that it was their bright brains that had the brilliant idea to modify the constitution to include that which is now giving them headache.