By Devina Samaroo
President David Granger Thursday evening declared that the Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo must accept his unilateral decision to appoint 84 – year- old Justice James Patterson as the new Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
Jagdeo, during an emergency press conference on Thursday, had declared that he will withdraw participation from the Border Committee, which was established by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to discuss the border issue between Guyana and Venezuela. Jagdeo had also pledged the PPP’s non-cooperation with the government in the future.
“If that is Mr Jagdeo’s position on national issues, I can only say that it does not seem to me that it will be in the public’s interest for him to do so but he must account to his own supporters and 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.
“I cannot agree with him, I have acted constitutionally and he must accept that decision, I have not broken the constitution in any way,” the Head of State told reporters after the swearing-in of Justice Patterson at State House last night.
The Opposition Leader had also lividly declared that President Granger has proven that he is untrustworthy but the Head of State said he refused to respond to Jagdeo.
“I won’t respond to Mr Jagdeo about untrustworthiness. I don’t know what he knows about untrustworthiness,” the President said.
Meanwhile, Justice Patterson claimed that he was sworn in just hours after he was informed of Granger’s decision to select him.
Granger, however, told reporters that he consulted with possible candidates since September and there were no rejections of the offer. According to the President, the unilateral appointment was necessary given that Jagdeo was not submitting a list that made up of ‘fit and proper’ individuals, as stated in the Constitution.
The Chief Justice (ag), Roxanne George-Wiltshire had ruled that in the furtherance of good governance and democracy, the President should give reasons for rejecting each nominee submitted by the Opposition Leader.
However, last night, President Granger refused to do so.
“I have searched the Constitution and the only reason I found is that I am not obliged to appoint anybody who is not fit and proper,” he said.
President Granger maintained that he considers Justice Patterson to be ‘fit and proper’ and denied allegations that the consultation process was a window-dressing exercise. Meanwhile, Justice Patterson was nominated by the then Opposition Leader Desmond Hoyte in 1997 to serve as the GECOM chairman.