Guyana: Government welcomes Court of Appeal ruling on GECOM

By CMC

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(CMC) – The Guyana government has welcomed Thursday’s ruling by the Court of Appeal that President David Granger acted within the Constitution when he appointed retired justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

We were always convinced that under the constitution, the President has the right to appoint the chairman from a list of six persons and, insofar as the President finds that the list is unacceptable, then he can properly reject the list and that has happened three times and the court has arrived at the decision that the President acted constitutionally and lawfully,” said Attorney General Senior Counsel, Basil Williams.

President Granger, had in October 2017, appointed Patterson to the post after rejecting a total of 18 names contained in three lists submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo,

The opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) later filed a High Court action requesting that the decision be quashed arguing that President Granger had violated the Constitution by selecting Patterson. Earlier this year, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire ruled that Granger can rightfully ignore the Opposition Leader’s nominees for the post.

PPP executive secretary, Mustapha Zulfikar appealed the decision asking the Court of Appeal to scrap the entire decision and instruct President Granger to pick one of Jagdeo’s 18 nominees contained in three separate lists.

The unanimous decision was arrived at by acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards and Justices Dawn Gregory and Rishi Persaud heard several days of arguments and deliberations on the case brought against the Attorney general by Mustapha, who was represented by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall.

The Attorney General was supported by Barbadian Queen Counsel Hal Gollop and Ralph Thorne and Solicitor General Kim Kyte-Thomas

The Court said there was nothing to suggest that President Granger acted unconstitutionally, illegally or unreasonably in appointing Patterson.

Justice Persaud said it was envisaged that a judge would be impartial.

He said while there was a need to guard against an interpretation is “wholly undesirable”, the president could not be mandated to choose from a list because that could lead to an “unreasonable fettering of his discretion.

“That could possibly lend itself to politicking, abuse by one… Again, such an interpretation may also attempt to elevate the Leader of the Opposition to a position over and above the norms associated with his authority,” Justice Persaud said.

Guyana is preparing to hold Local Government Elections on November 12.

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