Guyana Bar Association threatens legal action for president to disclose reason for rejecting Jagdeo’s GECOM nominees

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana. Oct. 22, CMC – The Guyana Bar Association (GBA) has threatened to take legal action concerning   President David Granger’s rejection of nominees suggested by  Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo’s for the position  Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
“The Bar Council expects that reasons for rejecting the eighteen persons leading to the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson will be provided forthwith to avoid the necessity of further litigation on this issue on its part,” the association said in a statement on Saturday.
On Thursday, Retired Justice James Patterson, former chief justice of Grenada was sworn in as the new chairman of GECOM, ending months of bickering between President David Granger and Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo over a replacement for Dr. Steve Surujbally, who retired last November.
However, Jagdeo, who met with Granger prior to the announcement of Justice Patterson to the post, said the Head of state had acted unilaterally and declared a period of non co-operation with the government.
“We will be talking to our people across the country as well as the members to decide what else we will do, but right now, this government will not have our co-operation on any issue until they start complying with the constitution,” Jagdeo then said.
However, according to the GBA, Chief Justice Roxane George-Wiltshire’s ruling is now part of Guyana’s laws unless a higher court overturns it and so the President has a duty to provide reasons for his rejection of the nominees.
“It should be obvious therefore that Guyanese cannot satisfy themselves that there is an objective and lawful basis for the President’s unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson to that office unless publicly stated reasons for the rejection of the eighteen persons found by the President to be unfit to hold the office of Chairman of the Elections Commission are provided.
The Bar Association said only if clear and detailed reasons are provided which show cause why each of the eighteen rejected persons is unacceptable to the President for appointment to the office of Chairman of the Elections Commission would it be possible to establish that the Leader of the Opposition failed to submit a list as provided for by the Constitution.”
Saying that it was deeply concerned by the President’s unilateral appointment of a GECOM Chairman in more than 25 years, the GBA warned that the move could result in voter apathy.
” The unilateral appointment of the Chairman can lead to a loss of public confidence in the electoral process which is entirely undesirable having regard to Guyana’s experience in past elections,” the association said.

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