Bar Association Threatens Legal Action Against President

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Justice James Patterson being sworn in. (DPI photo)

Wants Him Disclose Reason for Rejecting Jagdeo’s GECOM Nominees

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) has threatened to
take legal action over President David Granger’s rejection of nominees suggested
by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo’s for the position Chairman of the Guyana
Elections Commission (GECOM).

“The Bar Council expects that reasons for rejecting the eighteen persons leading to
the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson will be provided forthwith to
avoid the necessity of further litigation on this issue on its part,” the association said
in a statement on Saturday.

On Thursday, Retired Justice James Patterson, former chief justice of Grenada was
sworn in as the new chairman of GECOM, ending months of bickering between
President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo over a replacement
for Dr. Steve Surujbally, who retired last November.

However, Jagdeo, who met with Granger prior to the announcement of Justice
Patterson to the post, said the Head of state had acted unilaterally and declared a
period of non co-operation with the government.

“We will be talking to our people across the country as well as the members to
decide what else we will do, but right now, this government will not have our co-
operation on any issue until they start complying with the constitution,” Jagdeo then
said.

However, according to the GBA, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire’s ruling is
now part of Guyana’s laws unless a higher court overturns it and so the President
has a duty to provide reasons for his rejection of the nominees.

“It should be obvious therefore that Guyanese cannot satisfy themselves that there
is an objective and lawful basis for the President’s unilateral appointment of Justice
James Patterson to that office unless publicly stated reasons for the rejection of the
eighteen persons found by the President to be unfit to hold the office of Chairman of
the Elections Commission are provided.

The Bar Association said only if clear and detailed reasons are provided which show
cause why each of the eighteen rejected persons is unacceptable to the President
for appointment to the office of Chairman of the Elections Commission would it be
possible to establish that the Leader of the Opposition failed to submit a list as
provided for by the Constitution.”

Saying that it was deeply concerned by the President’s unilateral appointment of a
GECOM Chairman in more than 25 years, the GBA warned that the move could
result in voter apathy.

” The unilateral appointment of the Chairman can lead to a loss of public confidence
in the electoral process which is entirely undesirable having regard to Guyana’s
experience in past elections,” the association said. – CMC

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