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AFC’s integrity hauled into disrepute as role in appointment of GECOM Chairman questioned

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The integrity of the Alliance For Change (AFC) arm of the coalition government has been dragged into disrepute as its role in the appointment of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is being questioned by both the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo and an Executive Member of the Party’s Canadian Chapter.

Jagdeo, during a news conference on Tuesday, November 14, 2017, said AFC members are conveying the impression that they had no say in the matter when in actuality, the Party played a significant role in the appointment of Justice James Patterson as the GECOM Chairman.

The Opposition Leader revealed that AFC Leader, Raphael Trotman was present at more meetings between himself and President David Granger than the Attorney General, Basil Williams.

“He [Trotman] was not a passive participant. Trotman helped to draft the joint press release with Anil Nandlall … So Trotman and the AFC can’t exclude themselves totally,” Jagdeo asserted.

Jagdeo contended that, given Trotman’s firsthand knowledge of the situation, he should have confronted the President on the repercussions of his decision to unilaterally appoint Justice Patterson.

“Why did Trotman not say to the President ‘Mr President, you are going to be deemed untrustworthy’ …If he had any courage, decency, and integrity, that is what he would have done,” Jagdeo posited.

Meanwhile, an Executive Member of the Party told News Room that the AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan had discussions with the President on the appointment of the GECOM Chairman.

In an email, which was sent to members of the National Executive Committee (NEC), Ramjattan allegedly said, “I did express my opinion to the President at a Cabinet break sometime back, after the second list from Jagdeo, that I was not comfortable with any of those names presented.”

The Executive Member, who asked to remain anonymous, revealed that Ramjattan spoke about the perception of rigged elections but nonetheless expressed that “AFC really cannot do anything to stop rigged elections.”

On October 19, President David Granger unilaterally appointed 84-year-old Patterson as the GECOM Chair, after rejecting 18 persons who were nominated by Jagdeo. The President had said that the nominees were not “fit and proper” to serve as the GECOM Chair. His decision was met with widespread condemnation from civil society, the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Human Rights Association, the Guyana Bar Association, the Guyana Association of Women Lawyers among others.

Following the President’s decision, the AFC quickly issued a statement and made it clear that it played no role in the appointment of Patterson.

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