Over a month after his appointment as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom), retired judge James Patterson will today convene a statutory meeting with the other members of the commission.
Patterson confirmed to Stabroek News yesterday that he will meet with the commissioners but could not immediately say what is on the agenda for discussion.
This newspaper was subsequently informed that each commissioner received a notice, dated November 17, 2017, informing of the statutory meeting. The internal memorandum stated that in accordance with Article 226 of the Constitution, “the Chairman hereby requests your presence at a Statutory Meeting scheduled for Friday November 24, 2017 @ 13:00 hours in the GECOM Boardroom.” The notice was signed by Patterson.
Among the items listed on the agenda, which was attached to the notice, are introductory remarks/announcements and a brief on the activities of the Secretariat.
Patterson, a former High Court judge, was sworn in on October 19, two and a half hours after President David Granger met with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo to inform him of the rejection of the third list of candidates and his selection of Patterson.
Patterson’s unilateral appointment, which both Granger and the Attorney General, Basil Williams SC, have sought to defend, has seen strong condemnation from civil society and the opposition PPP/C that it has adopted a stance of non-cooperation as a result of the decision.
The opposition has also filed a court action challenging the appointment of Patterson and calling in part for the court to direct the president to choose one of the 18 rejected nominees.
Patterson had said earlier this month that the “good team” he has working with him has ensured that his settling in as Gecom Chairman has been incident free thus far. He explained that since his appointment he had been doing a lot of reading to get himself acquainted with his duties.
Patterson could not indicate what his main focus for Gecom is since, according to him, he is not the commission, just the Chairman, and he noted that reading and getting the advice of the “wiser heads” was his priority.
He has already met with former Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally. During that meeting, Surujbally advised his successor to push for the introduction of electronic voting and to resuscitate talks to commence an elections management course at the University of Guyana.