Court of Appeal upholds appointment of GECOM Chairman

-in unanimous decision

The Guyana Court of Appeal (GCA) earlier today upheld the ruling of the Chief Justice (ag) that the President constitutionally resorted to the proviso, which allowed for him to unilaterally appoint Justice (ret’d) James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

The decision was unanimous and took nearly two hours to be delivered by acting Chancellor Yonette Cummings-Edward and Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Dawn Gregory.

Retired Justice James Patterson

The appeal which was filed by PPP executive Zulfikar Mustapha, contended that Patterson’s appointment contravenes the constitution and for this reason the ruling of the Chief Justice Roxane George upholding it should be overturned.

His attorney Anil Nandlall moments after the ruling expressed dissatisfaction and informed Stabroek News that he will be taking the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Guyana final court.

Mustapha’s appeal contends that the ruling of George should be overturned for, among other things, the president’s refusal to provide reasons for rejecting a list of nominees submitted by the Leader of the Opposition and his unlawful resort to the constitutional proviso for making a unilateral appointment.

Justice George had dismissed Mustapha’s challenge to the appointment as wholly misconceived, declaring, “I hold that there is nothing before this Court to permit a finding that the President acted unlawfully or irrationally in resorting to the proviso to Article 161(2), or to rebut the presumption that Justice Patterson is qualified to be appointed to the post of Chairman of GECOM.”

Following the appointment and swearing-in of the 85-year-old Patterson almost a year ago, Mustapha filed an application, contending that the president had no power to make a unilateral appointment once a list of six names had been submitted to him.

He made this argument while noting that the head of state had failed to give reasons for naming Jagdeo’s 18 nominees as unacceptable.

Article 161(2) provides for the appointment of a Chairman based on a consensual process in which a list of six persons, “not unacceptable to the president,” is submitted by the opposition leader.

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