Jagdeo was willing to submit fourth list of nominees
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Wednesday announced that he was willing to compile a fourth list of nominees if President David Granger did not take the unconstitutional route to unilaterally appoint 84-year-old Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“I would have done it but this time he [the President] would have to comply with the ruling of the Chief Justice and that is law now … he would have had to give reasons for rejecting the names on the list and then the Chief Justice said any name on the list or any quantum of names on the list that (is/are) unacceptable, that does not render the entire list as unacceptable,” he at a press conference held at his office on Church Street, Georgetown.
Jagdeo also asserted that the Head of State should have requested another list if he was still unsatisfied with the 18 nominees instead of abandoning a constitutional process that has been enforced since 1992.
According to the Leader of the Opposition, the President’s hasty actions confirm suspicions that he had already made up his mind about selecting someone of his own choice to fill the chairmanship post.
“This President, when I pointed out very early in the game that I believe he had made up his mind to unilaterally appoint from the very beginning, he opposed that. He said I was talking nonsense and that he intended … to work in a collaborative fashion with us until a chairman is named,” he explained, contending that the President cannot be trusted.
Jagdeo reminded that Granger had also agreed to set up a high-level team to further deliberate the issue if the third list of nominees was rejected however, this was never done.
“He ignored all of that to make a unilateral appointment in the dark of the night,” he stated.
Jagdeo added that the appointment is also questionable since Justice Patterson claimed he was only contacted by President Granger a few hours before his appointment. The Opposition Leader also argued that the unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson is wrong on several grounds including that it was unconstitutional and it violated the judgment handed down by the Chief Justice (AG) Roxane George-Wiltshire.
“Even on the proviso issue, the Chief Justice is clear that it was never substantively argued and that it is of academic concern now … look at all the public disclosures by the government of the Chief Justice’s ruling, it’s very selective … So Granger acted in defiance of not only our history, but the constitution and the judgment of the court,” he posited.
He also argued that the President’s decision can be viewed as his abandonment of the People’s National Congress (PNC) own principles.
“The President has made a unilateral appointment in defiance of 25 years of a common understanding between the PPP and the PNC of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution,” he stated.
Jagdeo further argued that the narrative for constitutional reform is a move to distract from the real issues. He contended that Guyana does not, at this point in time, need constitutional reform but rather, constitutional compliance.