New evidence has surfaced showing that top Alliance For Change (AFC) leaders did in fact advise President David Granger not to pick any of Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo’s second batch of nominees for the post of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and that the Guyanese leader could go ahead and unilaterally appoint someone else of his choice.
The surfacing of this information in internal party correspondence contradicts the AFC’s official position stated publicly twice in its press releases since Granger’s unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as chairman of the elections management body.
Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Khemraj Ramjattan on Thursday confirmed that he last month authored an email to party executives, telling them he had advised the President against selecting any of the nominees on the second list.
Those on the second batch were Retired Justice of Appeal B.S Roy, Retired Justice William Ramlall; Attorney-at-law and a former Magistrate, Ms. Oneidge Walrond-Allicock; Attorney-at-Law, Kashir Khan; Attorney-at-law, Nadia Sagar and businessman, Gerald Gouveia.
In the-mail he also stated categorically that AFC Leader, Raphael Trotman was also present and he, too, also “expressed a similar sentiment”.
In correspondence dated October 22, 2017 to other top party executives, Ramjattan stated categorically that he told the President that he did not support any of Jagdeo’s nominees. “I did express my opinion to the President at a Cabinet break some time back, after the second list from Jagdeo, that I was not comfortable with any of those names presented. He had asked what I thought of the names,” said Ramjattan who is also Minister of Public Security.
Ramjattan’s email was dispatched by Laurence Williams who is the Secretary of AFC-Canada. That grouping has already withdrawn temporarily from the AFC unless the Guyana-headquartered party calls for Patterson’s appointment to be withdrawn and for the party to vigorously pursue constitutional reform.
In that same correspondence, the AFC Chairman said he then went on to “advise” Granger that if he was also of that opinion, then he was within his right to proceed to name a person who fits the constitutional requirements as he is empowered to do under the proviso of Guyana’s constitution.
Ramjattan was shown copies of the correspondence by Demerara Waves Online News during break in Thursday’s sitting of the National Assembly. After reading the printouts of the email, he said he had written them.
Asked to comment against the background of the fact that his party had said it was not involved in deciding who should be the GECOM Chairman, he remarked ‘ya” journalists like to deduce a lot” as he walked back into the Public Buildings Chamber.
The AFC Chairman implied that he was aware of the implications of the unilateral appointment and that his party needed to explain its position. “Colleagues, yes, indeed perceptions are reality in politics. So we have to work hard to change this dangerously destructive perception. It means going more on the ground to explain what we (are) doing and why. Plus delivering on what was promised”.
One of the perceptions that Ramjattan said he was wary of was that, with the appointment of Justice Patterson as GECOM Chairman, was that future elections would be rigged and his party could not do anything to stop it. ” Ramjattan expressed confidence that elections could not be rigged as had been done under the then People’s National Congress administration that had been led by then President Forbes Burnham. “I have already stated that elections are very difficult to rig in the context of the institutional arrangements in place and the very many local and international eyes on them. A Granger administration is therefore differently placed as against that of a Burnham administration. I am aware of the difficulty this argument will have out there but it is the harsh truth,” he said.
Ramjattan suggested that one of the strategies should be for the AFC to place greater emphasis on constitutional reform.
Granger appointed Patterson after deeming Jagdeo’s third set of names unacceptable as well. They were Retired Major General Joseph Singh; Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Teni Housty; Attorney-at-Law, Mr. Sanjeev Datadin; Mrs. Annette Arjune-Martins; Pastor Onesi La Fleur and former Magistrate Mr. Krishnadatt Persaud.
The first list, which was also rejected, was comprised of Conflict Resolution and Governance Specialist, Lawrence Lachmansingh; Retired Major General, Norman Mc Lean; Chartered Accountant and Attorney-at-Law, Christopher Ram; Business Executive Ramesh Dookhoo; History Professor, James Rose and Indian Rights Activist and businesswoman, Rhyaan Shah.