GECOM is without a Chairman says AG

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Attorney General Basil Williams on Monday agreed that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) is now without a Chairman following the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling on June 18 that the process to appoint Justice (rtd) James Patterson was flawed.

“The decision of the court is that the decision was void…so in effect there is no Chairman,” Williams told the media at the Appeal Court, High Street, Georgetown after the CCJ adjourned for the day on Monday.

Since last Tuesday’s ruling to today, Justice Patterson was not asked to step down and in fact, the News Room has confirmed that he remains on the job.

The Commission’s statutory meetings are held on Tuesdays.

Speaking with the media, Attorney at law and GECOM Commissioner, Sase Gunraj said he is unsure on how the Commissioners will move forward without a chair.

Attorney General Basil Williams speaks with reporters outside the Court of Appeal Monday

“Where that puts us as Commissioners and the Commission as a whole, is anyone’s guess because it was my hope that at the end of today’s proceedings, that we would have had some guidance on how we proceed,” he said.

Gunraj added that the Commission last met on June 4th. President of the CCJ, Justice Adrian Saunders during Monday’s sitting which was intended to issue consequential orders on going forward, also reiterated that there is no Chair of GECOM and that process by which he was appointed has to be re-engaged.

That process refers to the submission of a list by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo to President David Granger on suitable candidates for the post.

The Court in handing down its ruling on June 18 determined that the two leaders should perhaps meet and decide on the suitable candidates before the list is submitted so as to avoid a case where all the names are rejected as previously transpired.

Sase Gunraj

In 2017, the President unilaterally appointed Justice Patterson after he rejected three lists of six persons submitted by the Opposition Leader.

Speaking with the media last Wednesday, President Granger said he wanted to hear from the CCJ on why the process he used was flawed as he has never gone “outside” of what the Constitution says.

In the Constitution of Guyana, there is a proviso which provides for the President to appoint someone on his own if the Opposition Leader does not submit a list “as provided for.”

However, the CCJ President also stressed that the President should only find a nominee unacceptable for some good reason on objective grounds.

The CCJ on Monday gave President and Opposition Leader time to meet and find consensus on the way forward –one which will lead to the timely holding of elections.

The decision follows the inability of the two sides to meet and form a consensus before Monday’s hearing.

The President had written the Opposition Leader to a meeting after Monday’s hearing.

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