Age not a stumbling block for new “apolitical” GECOM Chairman; Granger scoffs at Jagdeo’s non-cooperation vow

Retired Justice James Patterson receiving his instrument of appointment as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission from President David Granger.

 

President David Granger Thursday night defended the swearing in of 84-year old Retired Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, and  both gentlemen dismissed suggestions that age could be a major humbug in dealing with the political rigours of the job.

Granger explained why he thought Patterson was “fit and proper” to head the elections management authority after Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo failed to submit three lists of nominees- a total of 18 persons- that were acceptable. “I do believe he brings to the position years of experience in addition to which we are looking for a person of integrity, impartiality and independence. I think he is a person who is independent minded, he is  impartial and I think he has all of the qualities which we require,” he said when asked by Demerara Waves Online News what makes Patterson fit and proper.    

Asked why former GECOM Chairman, Retired Major General Joseph Singh was not selected instead, Granger said “I am not prepared to discuss the individual qualities of the nominees; taken as a whole the list was unacceptable to me and that is all I need to say in accordance with the constitution.”

 Retired Justice James Patterson.

The President said after scrutinizing the list that Jagdeo had submitted in August and considered the curriculum vitae of the nominees, he had realised that Jagdeo had not intended to submit an acceptable list. He said since September- “over the last four, five weeks we have been searching”. “We had searched. We tried very hard to find somebody who is acceptable to the Guyanese public as a whole and who conform to the constitutional requirement.”

The President said he exercised his powers “in the public’s interest” to resort to the Constitution that allows him to act independently to appoint a person of the judicial category to become the GECOM Chairman. Granger had long maintained from the inception that a GECOM Chairman should be a judge, retired judge or someone eligible to be appointed a judge.

He said no one had rejected his approaches to be appointed GECOM Chairman.

Justice Patterson, for his part, said the President asked him only earlier Thursday evening if he would serve as GECOM Chairman. “I was never approached prior to tonight  (Thursday),” he said.

Moments after the President said the GECOM Chairman was not known to belong to any political party or express any political views or show any sort of partisanship, he (Patterson) said he wanted to see a united Guyana, not one that was racially divisive. “Try and fight for the unity of the country. It’s disheartening,” he  said, adding that he does not want Guyana to return to a period racial tension like in the 1960s.

“That will be my focus. I am  apolitical. I have not been in politics and I don’t think I will ever be. I don’t have the stamina for that- politics, for the job, yes!” he said.

The GECOM Chairman declined to speak on policy matters before going there to see what is happening.

With the Chairman now in place, the President hopes that GECOM will begin preparations for next year’s Local Government Elections and general and regional elections constitutionally due in 2020.

Age

The Opposition Leader suggested that Retired Justice Patterson was quite old, but the President countered, saying that  the former Chief Justice of Grenada was up to the task despite his age. “Yes, I am. me too.”

Asked whether he was up to the task of his new and demanding job, Patterson said, “the President thinks so and so do I”.  He said the ability to do the job rather than one’s age matters. Patterson said he has been a student of the Bar and that could be more damaging intellectually and otherwise than politics, when asked whether he could cope with the rigours of the job including having sleepless nights during election periods.

Opposition non-cooperation

FLASH BACK: President David Granger escorts Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Bharrat Jagdeo to the Conference room for their meeting Wednesday evening

Reacting to Jagdeo’s announcement earlier Thursday evening that his People’s Progressive Party (PPP) would be  withdrawing all forms of cooperation with the Granger-led administration until it abides by Guyana’s constitution, the President said that it would not be in the public’s interest for him to do so but in the end he must account to his supporters. “He will be judged by history if he feels that in the performance of my constitutional duties he feels that it is a correct course of action to attempt to damage the public governance of this country,”  Granger said, adding that he has not broken the constitution in any way.

The Opposition Leader said his party executives would soon fan out across the country to tell councillors that they must not cooperate with those from the governing A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC).

The President rejected Jagdeo’s claims that he had deliberately dragged out the process for selecting the GECOM Chairman because he had long preferred Justice Patterson. “I have never approached Justice Patterson prior to the reception of the third list and I have not dragged on the process. He has been the one who has brought three lists and all of the lists were flawed; all of the lists were unacceptable,” he said.

On Jagdeo’s accusation that Granger has now become untrustworthy, the Guyanese leader said, “I would not respond to Jagdeo about trustworthiness. I don’t know what he knows about trustworthiness. I would not respond to him.” The President appeared vexed that Jagdeo had said he was now unfit and improper to select someone from the list of names that he had submitted. “He has made a lot of allegations about me which I feel are quite unjustified. He referred to me as not being fit and proper and so on… I am not going to go down in the gutter to speak to Mr. Jagdeo. I am not going to do that. I don’t come from that political culture.”

The Opposition Leader has charged that the President has set the stage for election rigging, since it is clear that the GECOM Chairman has been hand-picked by the Chairman  which would give the government an automatic majority on the seven-member Commission.

Three of the Commissioners are drawn from the PPPC- Robeson Benn, Bibi Shadick and Sase Gunraj while the three that were nominated by the APNU+AFC are Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Sandra Jones.

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Comments

  • Ram Jagessar  On October 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    The ethnicity or impartiality of the GECOM chairman is really irrelevant at this stage, now that President Granger is embedded at political leader of the country with a majority in the Assembly and very good hopes for the future.

    And why does Granger and his APNU/AFC squad has reason for hope? The statistics on Wikipedia tell the story.

    Granger can count on almost all of the 30.2% Black (African) voters and almost all of the 16.73% Mixed (including Douglas). That’s 46.95% of the population right there. He can also count on the AFC getting their usual 10% of the electorate who cast their votes, which amounts to roughly 5% of the Indian share of 43.45% of the country. That gives a total of 51.95% of the total population and a majority of the voters as well. It’s not certain how much of the 9.16% Indigenous Amerindians vote for the PNC or the AFC, since many of them don’t vote at all, so we can leave them out of the equation for now.

    What can the PPP count on? I would say most of the Indian vote minus the 10% who vote for the AFC, which comes up to 38.45%. In any book 51.95 beats 38.45 any day of the week or year.

  • Gigi  On October 22, 2017 at 9:27 am

    What else to expect from the highest ranking dotard uncle tom who is only comfortable among other dotards. Make no mistake though, uncle tom is following the orders of his massas. And this nefarious distraction is cover for whatever shenanigans the west has planned. When it’s all over, Guyanese might find themselves in a situation like Puerto Rico. Most already have the mindset – sitting around expecting and waiting on their colonizer to provide for them. Just the other day, I read a letter over in the SN about one such creature complaining about slaves having to plant their own kitchen garden to feed themselves because massa didn’t want have to feed them. I hate to point out to this idiot that slaves also had to plant and tend to massa’s kitchen garden and that massa did them a favour by teaching them to not only feed themselves, but this allowed them the luxury of growing the foods they most likely preferred (it’s the old axiom about giving a man a fish versus teaching a man how to fish). But such is the mindset of these creatures that whatever their purpose on this earth, is oblivious to the rest of mankind.

    @ Ram Jagessar, you omitted to mention the large scale granting of visas to certain ethnicity/races that has resulted in the exodus of these voters which will put Guyanese blacks in the majority and influence future election results. Non- black Guyanese wanting to remain in the region need to do either of the two: call for a two-state solution, or lobby Venezuela to push for reclaiming the disputed area belonging to them – to include include those Guyanese born and residing in said area. A third alternative is to push for recolonizing Guyana to be ruled by any of the western countries, with the possible exception of the US if
    Puerto Rico is to be used as a example. Yet, you have to admit that living conditions under any western govt is preferable to any pnc-apnu-wpa-afc type govt.

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 22, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    Granger’s ploy was to give the appearance of consultation. He has the destructive PNC DNA in his blood. He can paint over the stripes (with APNU) but the PNC stripes are still underneath, DNA-based.

    He got Jagdeo to submit three lists of eligible names, serially, and then went about rejecting them all (while having gut-busting inner laughs among his hacks). Reminds me of a cruel army sergeant (a fitting pun) who punishes the private by having the private clean the floor; and each time the floor was clean the sergeant would dump the trash on the floor and getting the poor private to clean it up all over.

    One must remember that Granger ‘praised God for giving him/PNC the Blessed day when he supposedly won the last election’ (by just one-half percent). Yet, that said ‘God’ took three days to plug and publish an ‘official’ spread sheet result that did NOT add up (when the rows add across, the columns didn’t add down – meaning that the numbers were plugged in).

    Clearly, that was the Old Testament god who ordered terrible deeds on people he wasn’t pleased with. I will take Granger seriously when he graduates to the New Testament God. The opportunistic AFC will get their due desserts fro Jehovah unless they flee quickly.

    Veda Nath Mohabir

  • Ron Saywack  On October 22, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    It is utterly incredible that in the 21st century the veracity of Guyana’s national elections (and the will of the people) remains a question mark.

    It is clearly necessary that a team of international, impartial observers should always be present to oversee the conduct of the electoral process, in its entirety, – from the registration of voters to activity at polling stations to the safe, secure pickup and transport of ballot boxes to counting centers – as the GECOM is clearly too dubious an entity to be entrusted with the task.

    And by the way, why is Bharrat Jagdeo still in politics? Can someone please remind him that he is well past his shelf life?

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On October 22, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    A (not Indian) friend sent me this from KN’s Peeping Tom.

    Guyana’s poisoned political climate

    Oct 22, 2017

    A man whom I have known for a very long time came up to me and asked what I thought of the decision of the President of Guyana to unilaterally appoint a Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission. I knew that was not the real question which he wanted to ask. What he really wanted to know was what the implications of this decision were for the future of Guyana.
    I asked him if he had children. He said yes. Knowing that he enjoyed some level of financial security, I asked him whether the family had visas for any of the developed countries. He said they all had multiple visas for the USA and Canada. I said to him, “Get your children out of this country and get them out fast.”
    This is my advice to all Guyanese who want to know my opinion about the President’s decision to unilaterally appoint a Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), and the decision of the person to accept that appointment, knowing all too well that the President’s decision has effectively poisoned the political climate.
    Climate change is brutal, but it is far less destructive to a country’s economy than threats to democracy. Right now in Guyana, democracy is in its darkest hour. The decision of the President creates a political tsunami which will be more destructive than anything which has been done so far or is likely to be done to the economy by the government. It is worse than VAT – vampire at your throat.
    Guyana is in the midst of a political hurricane. My advice to all Guyanese professionals is to begin to look for jobs elsewhere. My advice to persons who have status in other countries is to start preparing to emigrate. My advice to persons with visas is to get your kids out of this country before the going gets tougher and the rights of citizens are more openly trampled upon – the inevitable consequence of a breakdown of democratic government.
    Forget about oil. That is not going to materialize any more. Companies like Exxon Mobil weigh the political risks in a country before sinking any investment. Exxon is not likely to sink any further investment in Guyana, given the fact that democracy is being threatened. The excitement over Guyana’s oil find is over, sunk by a return to the old politics of mistrust.
    Forget about the government’s plans, announced at the Private Sector Business Summit, to attract new investment into the country. Given the threats to democratic governance, there are only two types of investors who are going to risk investing in Guyana from now on – extreme risk-takers and carpetbaggers.
    The President’s decision has created the worst political crisis in Guyana since the disputed 1997 elections, which the PNCR knew that it had lost but refused to accept the results. Guyanese are all too well aware of what happened in the years following that decision. Growth contracted, because both local and overseas investors were not going to sink money in a country where there is political instability. Local investors adopted a wait and see position.
    It is not so much a case of political instability as it is political uncertainty which will undermine economic confidence in Guyana. But the greatest threat of any assault on democracy involves the violation of the rights of citizens.
    We have seen what has happened to vendors in Guyana. We have seen the actions taken to break down the homes of squatters. We have seen the dismissals of persons from the public service. We have witnessed persons being charged for some ‘strange offences’ such as non-entries into accounting journals by other persons. We have seen the DPP express an opinion about the need for cases to be built based on evidence.
    All of these things happened before this perverse decision by the President of Guyana, to unilaterally appoint a Chairperson of GECOM, after he (the President) had initiated a constitutional process which many felt had become settled practice. What do you think is going to happen now that the political climate is poisoned?
    To directly answer my friend’s question, there is only one direction in which Guyana is headed, and that is downwards. And so the only advice which could have been given to him – and which is now being given to all Guyanese concerned about Guyana’s future – is to get your children out of this God-forsaken country.
    Guyana is going nowhere under the APNU+AFC coalition other than downwards. Democracy is likely to be the victim of Guyana’s poisoned political culture. The economy will follow afterwards. Get your children out of here and do so fast!

    https://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/category/features-columnists/peeping-tom/

    VedaNM.

  • Ram Jagessar  On October 23, 2017 at 12:36 am

    You are such a comedian,Veda.
    For a moment I thought you were talking about Trinidad!
    And yes, Trinidad and Tobago too has elected a moron leader in Mr Rowley leading an idiot party the PNM, neither of whom have learned much in 50 years.
    And things are going downwards fast in Trinidad too. The minister of finance has just said the country was recently down to one day’s supply of foreign currency!
    And Trinidad is running out of oil and gas money fast, so forget about any oil boom.
    So what is my advice to Trinis still stuck down there, the Indos in particular? Tek your money and run from that place! Tek your children and fly away! Dig up your navel string if you can find it, but get out anyway if you can’t find the damn thing. You might be a born Trinidadian like me, but hello bing bing bing hear the bell, you can get another nationality, another citizenship. If you can’t find a future in a place where stupid people have buried it in a latrine, go somewhere you can find a guaranteed future.
    When Indian people say they can’t leave Trinidad, I ask what wrong with you? We grandfather jahaji and jahajin leave India that they used to worship as dharti mata and decide to stay in Trinidad. Are you saying Trinidad is more dharti mata to you than India was dharti mata to your grandparents?
    But you know something, Veda? Some of them Indian don’t want to hear me, and one old friend even tell me I am a traitor! Traitor to what? Traitor to the PNM governments, traitor to dumbass Rowley, traitor to the numbskulls who voted in a Rowley government? I will take that title any day!
    But you know what is really, really, madbull crazy about some of we Indian people in Trinidad is their plan to get back in government. One buddy living half in Trinidad and half Toronto tell me with a straight face that the UNC plan is to get some PNM black people to come over in the next election so they could win back Whitehall! Man, I nearly vomit into the telephone!
    The Indian political parties have been trying that shit since 1961 and it never work in more than 50 years and they still ent learn a damn thing! Black people and mixed race people show them over and over that they will vote PNM till they dead, and them stupidy Indians still don;t get it. Don’t quote 1986 when black people vote for the NAR led by a black man Robinson- they thought the NAR was a new and improved PNM!
    Right now, Veda, I can’t bear to read the Trinidad newspapers on the internet, It’s mostly bad, worse and worser. Much of what is going on there seems to be operating on the Lowest Common Denominator. But I don’t lose sleep over it. That’s not my country any more, not after 27 years in Canada. That ain’t my home no more. Home is where your children sleep, my friend. Home is where you get respect and where you give respect.
    So, do you consider Guyana to be your home, your homeland, your home country? How long have you been gone from that place? How much time have you actually spent in that place?

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