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AFC says appointment of GECOM Chair should not be left to President, Opposition Leader alone

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The Alliance For Change (AFC) – a major partner in the Coalition government – says it intends to use the constitutional reform process to ensure that there “is wider participation of stakeholders in the selection of GECOM commissioners.”

President David Granger on Thursday evening unilaterally appointed 84 – year- old Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), a decision which has been widely condemned by civil society, the Private Sector Commission and the main opposition, the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).

Justice (retired) James Patterson , the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission

In a statement issued on Friday night, the AFC made it clear that it played no part in Justice Patterson’s selection.

“The party recognizes that according to the constitution the consultation process was purely between the President and the Leader of the Opposition. The AFC played no part in the selection process,” the statement declared.

The coalition partner said it found it “regrettable that after three protracted rounds of consultations and submissions each of the three lists fell short of the requirements of the constitution.”

According to the AFC, “The party recognizes that the necessity had arisen for the President not to further delay the appointment of a Chairman. The appointment in the President’s own deliberate judgement has averted a looming constitutional crisis.”

Earlier, Khemraj Ramjattan, Chairman of the Alliance For Change (AFC), declared agreement with President Granger’s unilateral appointment of the new chairman.

“I, Khemraj Ramjattan, support what the President did,” the AFC chairman told the News Room when contacted on Friday.

He said that while the President did ask the party for its views, ultimately it was the President’s decision.

“The constitution says it is the President’s judgement call on the matter…it was his call,” Ramjattan stated.

Meanwhile, the AFC statement noted that now that GECOM is fully constituted, the party expects that it will commence its work immediately in preparation for Local Government Elections in 2018 and Regional and General Elections in 2020.

“The AFC holds GECOM to the highest standards of electoral integrity and will stridently challenge any threats to the preservation of our democracy.”

The party ended its statement by condemning Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo for his “reckless and unpatriotic stance of non-cooperation and civil disobedience and the party will hold him personally accountable for the consequences of any civil unrest which may ensue.”

Jagdeo at a press conference on Thursday evening announced that the PPP will no longer participate in a border committee, which was recently established by Foreign Affairs Ministry to discuss the ongoing border issue with Venezuela.

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