GECOM Chairman still at home on medical leave, spokeswoman says

-calls photos circulated by opposition MP a ‘misrepresentation’

One of the photos of GECOM Chairman James Patterson that were posted by Opposition Member of Parliament Nigel Dharamlall

Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman James Patterson is still at home resting, according to the commission’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Yolanda Warde, who says photos of him that were circulated online by an opposition Member of Parliament (MP) were not recently taken.

Warde was referring to questions regarding a Facebook post by Opposition MP Nigel Dharamlall, which featured three photos of the Chairman outside in the company of an unidentified female.

The post was made on Friday on Dharamlall’s personal Facebook page, and was accompanied by a caption which insinuated that the GECOM chairman, whom he dubbed “Mr. fit n propa,” was faking his illness.

“Good Afternoon Friends. Dear #Citizens,  Mr. #Fit_n_Propa on the move in #Foulis, East Coast, Demerara whilst claiming to be sick… #Elections must be held on the #constitutionally-due date…Within 90 days of the #No_Confidence_Vote which was held since December 21, 2018…,”  the Opposition MP wrote in a post accompanying the photos.

However, when contacted, Warde told Sunday Stabroek that the photos were a misrepresentation of Patterson’s current situation, as they were taken at the residence of one of his former housekeepers, long before his appointment as Chairman in October, 2017.

“It’s a misrepresentation of the current situation. Those are very old photographs that were taken of the chairman that are for some reason circulated at this point… But I just really want to provide that clarity that [they are] some very old photos before his chairmanship,” she said.

“I think the centre of the issue is that what is being portrayed right now is that these are current images, since he is on this extended leave that he is up and about but that has not been so, he is still at home resting,” Warde added, before noting that Patterson is expected to return to work on Tuesday.

The PRO was also asked whether the chairman would be writing to Dharamlall to have the images removed, to which she stated that the legal officer would first have to be consulted before determining what course of action can be taken.

Justice Patterson’s medical leave was extended earlier this month, following a visit to his doctor on January 7th, 2019. 

GECOM, in a statement issued said, “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”.

President David Granger’s selection of Patterson, 85, after he had rejected 18 names submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, led to questions being raised about whether he would be able to endure the rigours and divisiveness of a general elections campaign at his advanced age.  

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