Home News PPP ups pressure for Patterson to resign or appointment revoked
– over admission that CV misrepresented the truth
While newly appointed Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman James Patterson has claimed ‘a slip of the pen’ was responsible for leaving out ‘acting’ on his curriculum vitae (CV), the parliamentary Opposition is not letting him off the hook, and has in fact upped the pressure and calls for him to resign or for his controversial appointment to be revoked.
Patterson, who was asked to be Chairman by President David Granger on October 19 and sworn in hours later after he accepted, presented a CV which stated that he had been the Chief Justice of Grenada. After weeks of uncertainty, and after being exposed by Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, he has finally admitted he only ‘acted’ in the position, even though he cannot remember when exactly he acted.
Noting the distinction between acting and being appointed to a substantive position, Opposition Parliamentarian Priya Manickchand has noted that Patterson’s “lapsus calamis” cannot be defined as a mere mistake.
“For me, it’s not a mistake; it was a lie, and it’s amounting to a whole lie,” she related during a press conference on Saturday. “If it was a human error, you have two weeks to correct it, and that was one of my concerns I raised about the personality.
“If you don’t believe you have a duty to be transparent, then you’re not suited for that job. That job is all about transparency. People are laughing at us. We have just appointed somebody who lied to us that he was Chief Justice of one of the countries, and never was,” she declared.
Weighing in on the controversy, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall had also been sceptical of Patterson’s defence for leaving out “acting” on his CV. Nandlall said that because of this, Patterson should not hold the post.
“It confirms what I’ve said from the inception when I saw his curriculum vitae: that he has lied, to put it as bluntly as I can. When people hold certain offices, they appreciate deeply the difference between ‘acting’ and ‘substantive’. The gentleman was a judge. A judge, more than any other, would be able to appreciate the distinction between acting in an office and being appointed to that office. And therefore a Judge would know that when he says he was the Chief Justice of Grenada,”Nandlall said.
Patterson, currently a legal advisor in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, was sworn in a few hours after President David Granger met briefly with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo. According to the Head of State, his decision to select a GECOM chairman was done in accordance with Article 161 of the Constitution, which deals with the appointment of a GECOM Chairman.
Granger said he informed Jagdeo during their meeting that he had found the third list of nominees, submitted on August 25, 2017 unacceptable within the meaning of the Constitution, and that he had also paid careful attention to the ruling of the Chief Justice (Acting), Roxanne George-Wiltshire.
In justifying his decision to handpick 84-year-old Justice Patterson for this position, the President said that Patterson has extensive experience as a former Chief Justice of Grenada. “He has long judicial service, and we feel that he is a fit and proper person. So it’s important, for the reason I mentioned, that we bring this to and end and continue with the business of Guyana,” President Grange added.
A number of individuals and organisations spanning a wide cross-section of society have also soundly criticised and condemned the President’s decision to unilaterally appoint a chairman for GECOM. These include the Guyana Bar Association, the Berbice Bar Association, the Private Sector Commission, the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and even a section of the media.
Criticism has also come from the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) and members of the diaspora. In addition, the political Opposition has filed a legal challenge in the courts, seeking to revoke Patterson’s appointment.