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President submits James Patterson, 7 others for GECOM Chair

At today’s meeting, the government side was represented by Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Director-General Harmon. Opposition representatives were Chief Whip of the PPP/C, Gail Teixeira and members of Parliament Anil Nandlall and Juan Edghill.

President David Granger has submitted eight names to the Parliamentary opposition for its consideration, as the two sides continue the search for a Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), government’s Department of Public Information reported Monday night.

The eight persons nominated by the Head of State are retired justices Stanley Moore and Claudette La Bennet, Economist Dr. Aubrey Armstrong, former PNC/R executive members Stanley Ming and Kaddim Khan, former GECOM Chairman (ret’d) Justice James Patterson, former Solicitor General, Kim Kyte and Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC) Chairperson and Attorney, Kessaundra Alves.

Moore is a former Home Affairs Minister in the People’s National Congress (PNC) government, Armstrong had chaired an arbitration tribunal that had awarded huge salary increases to public servants.

Patterson’s unilateral appointment by President Granger had been declared flawed and unconstitutional by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo’s nominees are Annette Arjoon-Martins, retired Justice of Appeal B S Roy, Gerry Gouveia, Retired Major General and former GECOM Chairman Joseph Singh , Attorney-at-Law Kashir Khan, former Senior Magistrate, Krisndatt Persaud, Governance consultant Lawrence Lachmansingh, Retired Major General Norman McLean, Onesi La Fleur, and private sector executive Ramesh Dookhoo. Singh had resigned as a Presidential Advisor after President Granger had deemed him unfit and improper for the GECOM chairmanship.

Gouveia, Khan and Dookhoo are perceived in some circles as being too cozy with the Jagdeo-led opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP). Back in 2009, McLean and Sita Ramlall had been charged with forgery of documents purporting to represent the adoption of a female child. The United States embassy had picked up the alleged offence and had called in Guyanese police. Two years later in 2011, the charges were dismissed by then Magistrate, Fazil Azeez.

Director-General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Joseph Harmon Monday said that in addition to the list of 11 persons submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, the Head of State has suggested that the eight names be considered in the “hammering out” process.

The two sides will be working to identify six names. This, the Director-General said, should be done in the shortest possible time.

“We believe the consensual process contemplated by the CCJ and providing clarity in the Articles in the Constitution requires us to meet in this way so that we can find a consensus,” he told the media outside Castellani House.

According to the Director-General, the meeting between the two sides is important to all of Guyana “to have a Chairman of the Commission that both sides can find their decisions fair and representing the best interest of the people of Guyana”.

At a post-meeting press conference last Thursday, President Granger iterated that the Leader of the Opposition is free to present the names that have already been submitted on the past three lists, and he has also agreed to confirm that those persons are still willing to have their names forwarded.

The Head of State also clarified that the Constitution of Guyana stipulates the requirements of who is ‘fit and proper’ to be selected for the position of the chairman of GECOM.

At today’s meeting, the government side was represented by Vice President and Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and Director-General Harmon.

Opposition representatives were Chief Whip of the PPP/C, Gail Teixeira and members of Parliament Anil Nandlall and Juan Edghill.

The two sides will meet again on Tuesday, July 9.