GE­COM ap­point­ment con­formed to con­sti­tu­tion - WPA

Stabroek News - - NEWS -

Ac­cord­ing to the Work­ing Peo­ple’s Al­liance (WPA), the se­lec­tion of the GE­COM Chair­man has fol­lowed the let­ter of the law and con­sti­tu­tion but it said that nei­ther side is com­mit­ted to a so­lu­tion that would be ac­cept­able to both.

In a state­ment yes­ter­day on the uni­lat­eral ap­point­ment by Pres­i­dent David Granger of re­tired jus­tice James Pat­ter­son as GE­COM Chair, the WPA said: “It is our con­vic­tion that, on strict con­struc­tion, the se­lec­tion pro­ce­dure used so far has fol­lowed the let­ter of the law and the con­sti­tu­tion, if not the spirit. To be very clear, nei­ther side is com­mit­ted to a so­lu­tion that is sat­is­fac­tory to both. The po­lit­i­cal en­vi­ron­ment does not favour this. Fur­ther, their con­stituents who make up the bulk of the masses of Guyanese peo­ple, do not ex­pect such an out­come”.

A mem­ber of APNU, the main part­ner in the gov­ern­ing coali­tion, the WPA added “There was never go­ing to be a good out­come to the ap­point­ment of the GE­COM Chair with­out prior Con­sti­tu­tional Re­form. This could be proven true for all ap­point­ments that re­quire Pres­i­dent/Leader of Op­po­si­tion agree­ment”.

While it was rep­re­sented in its own right in par­lia­ment, the WPA had par­tic­i­pated in for­ward­ing a list of GE­COM can­di­dates un­der the cur­rent pro­vi­sions. In those cases, selec­tions were made by the sit­ting Pres­i­dent with­out re­sort to a sec­ond or third list. On the ques­tion of con­sti­tu­tion re­form, APNU+AFC, of which WPA is a part, had promised ac­cel­er­ated con­sti­tu­tional re­form which is yet to get un­der­way nearly two and a half years af­ter it was elected. Crit­ics would there­fore say that the WPA it­self would have to be held ac­count­able for the fact that con­sti­tu­tional re­form has not oc­curred.

In its state­ment yes­ter­day the WPA said that the ap­point­ment of a GE­COM Chair­man is one that should not be used for “par­ti­san po­lit­i­cal grand­stand­ing and set­tling scores. It goes to the heart of our demo­cratic process and should be treated as such by all re­spon­si­ble po­lit­i­cal and so­cial forces.”

It then how­ever charged “that the PPP in­ten­tion­ally set out to com­pro­mise the spirit of the process with the hope of us­ing the out­come to em­bar­rass the gov­ern­ment and fur­ther its own par­ti­san agenda”.

The party added that it re­spects the right and civic re­spon­si­bil­ity of ci­ti­zens and their or­ga­ni­za­tions to in­ter­pret and chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Granger’s ac­tion from both a con­sti­tu­tional and a po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive but warned “against fall­ing into the trap that is be­ing set by the PPP and its al­lies”.

With a few ex­cep­tions, Granger’s uni­lat­eral ap­point­ment has been broadly con­demned by civil so­ci­ety.

The WPA also noted that it did not and could not par­tic­i­pate in the se­lec­tion process as of right since the Con­sti­tu­tion as­signs this to the Pres­i­dent/Leader of Op­po­si­tion. It has been sug­gested by some that given that Granger is the head of a coali­tion that won gen­eral elec­tions by a slim ma­jor­ity that he should have con­sulted his coali­tion part­ners on their views on a uni­lat­eral nam­ing of a chair­man and who the can­di­date should be.

Ac­cord­ing to the WPA its ”fun­da­men­tal po­lit­i­cal po­si­tion is not to be en­snared by PPP/C, on prin­ci­ple, in any form, guise, or man­ner, in their des­per­ate ef­forts at re­vi­sion­ism/ his­tor­i­cal rewrit­ing/ op­por­tunism/ and crude hypocrisy”.

The party also con­tended that it is po­lit­i­cally im­por­tant for the coun­try that “demo­cratic forces do not al­low the ap­point­ment of Jus­tice Pat­ter­son to be read as a de facto de­pic­tion of the coali­tion’s col­lec­tive in­tent to rig elec­tions. This, from the WPA’s stand­point, is cer­tainly not the case. Those who wish the coali­tion ill, would hope this be­comes the nor­ma­tive pub­lic po­si­tion, es­pe­cially for ac­tivist Civil So­ci­ety. While not every­one, there are clearly sev­eral rogues and char­la­tans who are de­cep­tively pro­mot­ing this false equiv­a­lence. Buy­ers be­ware!”

The ap­point­ment of the 84-year-old Pat­ter­son has re­vived mem­o­ries and con­cerns in some quar­ters about the PNC’s rig­ging of elec­tions from 1964 to 1985. The PNCR and the WPA are among the part­ners in APNU.

“WPA pub­licly com­mits to the po­si­tion that, if elec­tions are not pro­ceed­ing as ‘`free and fair’, we would pub­licly with­draw from the Coali­tion, but would not on that, sup­port the PPP/C in any guise what­so­ever”, the party de­clared.

It also slammed what it said was the fal­la­cious po­si­tions be­ing trans­mit­ted that Jus­tice Pat­ter­son re­ceived $800,000 per month as ad­vi­sor to the Min­is­ter of Le­gal Af­fairs when he was only be­ing paid $20,000 and that he “mis­rep­re­sented that he was once Chief Jus­tice of Gre­nada when ev­i­dence proves oth­er­wise”.

The WPA also de­plored the at­tacks on Jus­tice Pat­ter­son.

“The ad hominem at­tacks and char­ac­ter as­sas­si­na­tion of Jus­tice Pat­ter­son know no bounds. His Chris­tian be­lief and prac­tice, age, pay­ing last rites to a col­league and friend all are fair game, de­spite com­para­tors on the lists submitted by the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion. At least, no vi­ral com­plaints have yet been made against him as a thief, abuser and scoundrel, for com­para­tors to be drawn”, the party de­clared.

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