Criticisms of GECOM Chair will not derail credibility of elections processes – Minister Harmon

Government Ministry of the Presidency News

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, November 16, 2017

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, questioned by media operatives today at a post-Cabinet press conference, made it clear that the criticisms of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, (retd) Justice James Patterson, can in no way derail the credibility of the elections process.

Minister of State Joseph Harmon

Recently, the Guyana Human Rights Authority (GHRA), questioned Justice Patterson’s suitability for the post of GECOM Chair, based on the position he had taken in the ‘Grenada 17’ trial some three decades ago.

However, Minister Harmon said, “It is difficult for people in retrospect to look at decisions that were made by judges and then deem them inappropriate for the job which they are holding now, because of the decisions they gave then . That was the situation at that time and a judge deals with the matter before him or her.”

Further, when asked about the lack of meetings by the elections body, Minister Harmon reminded that it is a Constitutional body that operates autonomously.

“The Commission has to regulate its processes. A chairman has been appointed and I’m sure that the chairman would be anxious to have the Commission’s work proceed…As far as I’m aware work has been going on in the commission that is required for any Local Government Elections or National Elections,” he noted.

Justice Patterson, a retired High Court Judge, was on October 19, 2017, appointed Chairman of GECOM by President David Granger, who made the appointment after he disapproved the third list of nominees submitted by Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo.

The President, despite numerous criticisms, has maintained that he acted in accordance with Article 121 (2) of the Guyana Constitution, which permits him to act independently and appoint a person of the judicial category to chair the elections body.

 

By: Stacy Carmichael