GECOM Chairman sick leave extended; Constitution provides for temporary chair

Last Updated on Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 17:41 by Writer

GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice James Patterson

As the Guyana President and the Opposition Leader prepare to hold talks on Wednesday on the contentious no-confidence motion, the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman’s sick leave has been extended following medical advice.

“Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, Retired Justice James Patterson has informed that his medical leave has been extended following a visit to his doctor on 7th January, 2019. The Chairman had earlier indicated that that he would resume duty on 8th January, 2019 and to reconvene a statutory meeting after being absent since early December due to illness,” GECOM said in a statement on Tuesday.

Opposition People’s Progressive Party Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had stated he plans to discuss primarily the holding of general elections in accordance with the constitution when he meets with President David Granger on January 9, 2019 at the Ministry of the Presidency.

Patterson has not been at work since November 30, 2018, and GECOM gave no indication of when the extended sick leave will end. “While, the Chairman has been recovering well, he was advised by his doctor to have some additional rest to ensure that he fully recovers to effectively resume duty. The Chairman will provide further updates on his resumption,” the Commission added.

The seven-member commission last met on November 27.

Patterson’s extended sick leave has come at a time when Jagdeo has said he wants to discuss preparations for general elections by March 19, 2019 following the no-confidence motion that was passed on December 21, 2018.

The accuracy of the 33-32 absolute majority vote and the eligibility of former government parliamentarian Charrandas Persaud to sit in the House because he is a Canadian citizen are being contested by the government in the High Court.

Guyana’s constitution provide for the appointment of a temporary chairman for the specified period of absence or illness.

President Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson is currently the subject of appeal before the Caribbean Court of Justice after the local High and Appeal Courts ruled that the President enjoys the right to do so if any or all the nominees by the Opposition Leader do not find favour with him.