AFC says Trotman was invited to “urgent” meeting at State House, maintains it was not involved in selecting GECOM Chair

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The Alliance For Change (AFC) on Thursday denied allegations that it was involved in the appointment of Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“The Party reiterates that it played no part in the selection process,” the AFC said in a statement in response to claims made by the Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.The AFC, the smaller arm of the coalition government, explained that Party Leader, Raphael Trotman was invited to an urgent meeting at State House by the President David Granger on the evening of October 19, 2017.

“At the meeting, President Granger informed Mr Trotman of his decision with regard to the appointment of Justice James Patterson as GECOM Chairman. The meeting concluded and Mr Trotman departed. Justice Patterson was sworn in later that evening,” the statement explained.

The AFC said Trotman subsequently informed the National Executive Commission (NEC) via email of the President’s decision. (See the email below)

The AFC promised that it will hold GECOM to the highest standards of electoral integrity and will stridently challenge any threats to the preservation of the country’s democracy.

According to the Party, Jagdeo appears to be “deeply disturbed” by the Party’s condemnation of his “reckless and unpatriotic” threats of non-cooperation and civil disobedience and that its promise to hold him accountable for the consequences of any civil unrest.

“Mr Jagdeo’s threats turned out to be nothing but empty bluster having been rejected by the people of Guyana, including his own supporters. The AFC is certain that its strong public condemnation of Mr Jagdeo alerted the nation to his sinister motives and played a not insignificant role in derailing his reckless plans,” the Party stated.

The AFC said Jagdeo appears to now be on an intensified campaign of “vendetta and revenge” against the AFC as a result of the Party’s thwarting of his plans for civil disobedience and unrest.

Meanwhile, Minister of State Joseph Harmon sought to put concerns about the credibility of the electoral process at bay. He assured that the unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson does not mean that the work of the Commission will be compromised.

Aside from the parliamentary opposition, the Guyana Human Rights Association, the Transparency Institute of Guyana, the Guyana Bar Association, the Private Sector Commission, the Chambers of Commerce, and several independent professionalisms have all condemned the appointment.

Raphael Trotman’s email to the NEC (Released by AFC):

“Dear All,

I arrived at State House this evening and was shown a letter by the President, which was addressed to Mr. Jagdeo. In essence, the President’s letter stated that he has rejected the 3rd list and has considered the ruling of the CJ, and it is his opinion, that he is constitutionally empowered to name a person to the Chairmanship. Further, he has named Justice (ret’d) James Patterson to be the GECOM Chairman. 

Mr. Jagdeo and team (Anil Nandlall and Irfan Ally) came at 6 pm for the meeting and were informed of the above and then handed letters to this effect. Mr. Jagdeo challenged the President’s rejection of the list and his right to unilaterally name a person. His basis was that it is unconstitutional in addition to being an act of bad faith. He (Jagdeo) also stated that he will not recognise Justice Patterson as being impartial and will challenge the appointment.

This is my brief report and I have attached a copy of the letter in three parts.”

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