President David Granger’s action to unilaterally appoint Justice (Retired) James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) was clearly within his constitutional power and duty, said Amna Ally, the General Secretary of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR). Ally is also the Minister of Social Protection.
According to a statement issued by the PNCR, as President of the Republic, and given that the opposition had failed to submit a nominee that was acceptable for the position, it was within Granger’s constitutional power to make a unilateral appointment. It added that the president over the last few months had made valiant efforts to consult, and have open dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo and members of the political opposition, regarding the requirements stipulated under the constitution for the selection of nominees for the Gecom Chairperson.
The press release from the PNCR General Secretary stated that the three separate lists of nominees submitted by Jagdeo proved to be unacceptable for the post of Gecom Chair. According to the Constitution, the President has the discretion to determine the person who is duly qualified for that position and has a duty to appoint that person.
Patterson, according to the PNCR statement, has been deemed to be fit for the post in accordance with Article 161 (2) of the Constitution which states that, “the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or has held office as a judge of a Court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a Court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such Court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such Judge.”
According to the PNCR General Secretary’s statement, the comments made by the Leader of the Opposition for all to adopt a non-cooperative approach with Government are reckless and threaten the stability of the country’s democracy.
“We urge all Guyanese to deter from any such action and let us all work together for the betterment of this great nation of ours. We look forward to the commencement of work in preparation for Local Govern-ment Elections in 2018 given the lengthy delay in appointment of the Chairman, “the statement from the PNCR General Secretary said.