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Age not a stumbling block for new “apolitical” GECOM Chairman; Granger scoffs at Jagdeo’s non-cooperation vow

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

President David Granger Thursday night defended the swearing in of 84-year old Retired Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, and  both gentlemen dismissed suggestions that age could be a major humbug in dealing with the political rigours of the job.

Granger explained why he thought Patterson was “fit and proper” to head the elections management authority after Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo failed to submit three lists of nominees- a total of 18 persons- that were acceptable. “I do believe he brings to the position years of experience in addition to which we are looking for a person of integrity, impartiality and independence. I think he is a person who is independent minded, he is  impartial and I think he has all of the qualities which we require,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News what makes Patterson fit and proper.

Asked why former GECOM Chairman, Retired Major General Joseph Singh was not selected instead, Granger said “I am not prepared to discuss the individual qualities of the nominees; taken as a whole the list was unacceptable to me and that is all I need to say in accordance with the constitution.”

Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Retired Justice James Patterson.

The President said after scrutinizing the list that Jagdeo had submitted in August and considered the curriculum vitae of the nominees, he had realised that Jagdeo had not intended to submit an acceptable list. He said since September- “over the last four, five weeks we have been searching”. “We had searched. We tried very hard to find somebody who is acceptable to the Guyanese public as a whole and who conform to the constitutional requirement.”

The President said he exercised his powers “in the public’s interest” to resort to the Constitution that allows him to act independently to appoint a person of the judicial category to become the GECOM Chairman. Granger had long maintained from the inception that a GECOM Chairman should be a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be appointed a judge.

He said no one had rejected his approaches to be appointed GECOM Chairman.

Justice Patterson, for his part, said the President asked him only earlier Thursday evening if he would serve as GECOM Chairman. “I was never approached prior to tonight  (Thursday),” he said.

Moments after the President said the GECOM Chairman was not known to belong to any political party or express any political views or show any sort of partisanship, he (Patterson) said he wanted to see a united Guyana, not one that was racially divisive. “Try and fight for the unity of the country. It’s disheartening,” he  said, adding that he does not want Guyana to return to a period racial tension like in the 1960s.

“That will be my focus. I am  apolitical. I have not been in politics and I don’t think I will ever be. I don’t have the stamina for that- politics, for the job, yes!” he said.

The GECOM Chairman declined to speak on policy matters before going there to see what is happening.

With the Chairman now in place, the President hopes that GECOM will begin preparations for next year’s Local Government Elections and general and regional elections constitutionally due in 2020.


Age

The Opposition Leader suggested that Retired Justice Patterson was quite old, but the President countered, saying that  the former Chief Justice of Grenada was up to the task despite his age. “Yes, I am. me too.”

Asked whether he was up to the task of his new and demanding job, Patterson said, “the President thinks so and so do I”.  He said the ability to do the job rather than one’s age matters. Patterson said he has been a student of the Bar and that could be more damaging intellectually and otherwise than politics, when asked whether he could cope with the rigours of the job including having sleepless nights during election periods.

 

Opposition non-cooperation

FLASH BACK: President David Granger escorts Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo to the Conference room for their meeting Wednesday evening

Reacting to Jagdeo’s announcement earlier Thursday evening that his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would be  withdrawing all forms of cooperation with the Granger-led administration until it abides by Guyana’s constitution, the President said that it would not be in the public’s interest for him to do so but in the end he must account to his supporters. “He will be judged by history if he feels that in the performance of my constitutional duties he feels that it is a correct course of action to attempt to damage the public governance of this country,”  Granger said, adding that he has not broken the constitution in any way.

The Opposition Leader said his party executives would soon fan out across the country to tell councillors that they must not cooperate with those from the governing A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

The President rejected Jagdeo’s claims that he had deliberately dragged out the process for selecting the GECOM Chairman because he had long preferred Justice Patterson. “I have never approached Justice Patterson prior to the reception of the third list and I have not dragged on the process. He has been the one who has brought three lists and all of the lists were flawed; all of the lists were unacceptable,” he said.

On Jagdeo’s accusation that Granger has now become untrustworthy, the Guyanese leader said, “I would not respond to Jagdeo about trustworthiness. I don’t know what he knows about trustworthiness. I would not respond to him.” The President appeared vexed that Jagdeo had said he was now unfit and improper to select someone from the list of names that he had submitted. “He has made a lot of allegations about me which I feel are quite unjustified. He referred to me as not being fit and proper and so on… I am not going to go down in the gutter to speak to Mr. Jagdeo. I am not going to do that. I don’t come from that political culture.”

The Opposition Leader has charged that the President has set the stage for election rigging, since it is clear that the GECOM Chairman has been hand-picked by the Chairman  which would give the government an automatic majority on the seven-member Commission.

Three of the Commissioners are drawn from the PPPC- Robeson Benn, Bibi Shadick and Sase Gunraj while the three that were nominated by the APNU+AFC are Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Sandra Jones.

  • Lancelot Brassington

    The question here is whether Mr. Patterson is up to the mental requirements of the job. I am not even close to sixty and I sometimes forget details about things that are not on the front burner. Even if your mental capacity is rock solid at the age of eighty four it can start to degenerate at any time.

    Back in the early seventies Mr. Granger, then a junior officer, objected strongly to the presence of old men (read that as officers in their mid to late forties) in the army. How times have changed.

    I have reservations about Mr Patterson’s age. That is my sole concern with respect to his appointment. If his mental agility should start heading south before the next election that will leave Mr. Granger looking very bad. Hopefully it will all be well.

    I like it when Jagdeo uses word like ‘untrustworthy’. It raises questions about moral authority. There is no shortage of light entertainment when a microphone is in front of Jagdeo.

    • Col123

      LB… you are funny… all over the place with your comments here and elsewhere…

  • ExPPP_Man

    Well rigged elections for the next 28 years are in order. I laughing at them Coolie who voted for change. Good thing I got money outside. Me going to live in Antigua, and enjoy the good life. Buh bye Guyanese. Oppression is not for me.

    • Col123

      We gat alyou in a carna boy!… me bin tell you so!

      • ExPPP_Man

        True , true story. All you can’t handle power, always abuse it. All yuh is real real Rawan.

        • Col123

          Hey boy … is you boy mootoo who a rawan with e sita…

          • ExPPP_Man

            Rawan and sita for sure.

  • Truth !

    looks like the country is now set 4 massive rigging of future elections

  • cuffy

    welcome back Hammie Green……nxt.

  • rs dasai

    Ides?

  • rs dasai

    JR
    a most interesting observation? Or statement?

  • Col123

    You can’t spell your own darn name…

  • Col123

    When is the funeral. Grangie selected a walking dead … saving Jaggie and the opposition in the future to submit any more list!

    • Lancelot Brassington

      Nasty remark.

      • Col123

        Possibly!…but which one of the remarks?…the opposition does not have to submit a list anymore…this chap selected is in the degenerative process which is accelerated….but time is of essence for all of us LB!… where is the argument!

  • Col123

    Some tribalism there bro!

  • Mother Sally

    RWANDA IS UPON US AT LONG LAST!

  • Col123

    The action is correct…it’s should not be a surprise!…. what’s wrong with servitude and slave mindset?… it exists world wide…and half of Guyanese are happy with massa mentality, slinging mud at the other half

    • ChosenNChrist

      🙂 The action was incorrect…it was not a surprise. Nothing is wrong with servitude and slave mindset… But half of Guyanese abhor it, as evident by our migration patterns. Why do you think our youths are aiming to write so many subjects at cxc?

      • Col123

        Well.. I am slowly withdrawing my negative thoughts about you in the past… being middle of the road in thinking is fair and worth traveling..

  • ExPPP_Man

    The black people there not racist like Guyanese black people. They are welcoming and work for whatever they want. They don’t thief like you Guyanese blacks.

  • ExPPP_Man

    Them black man there not racist like you Guyanese niggas.

  • ExPPP_Man

    Not racist black people like you. I have business here since 1987, never a day I suffer racism from the almost 100 % black population, unless you consider being called “Guyana Babu” as racist.

  • ExPPP_Man

    All yuh Guyanese black people are mostly anti-man, that’s so many all you like it from behind