…as Commissioner Benn calls for GECOM to provide free, fair, transparent, nationally and internationally verifiable democratic elections Since his appointment late last year, Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chairman, Justice James Patterson has had a turbulent reign. On Friday, he did not rule out resigning and putting an end to it all.During a press conference at GECOM’s Secretariat, the retired Justice complained about the challenges he is facing at the helm of the entity. When asked whether he would rule out resigning as Chairman, Patterson noted that he would not.He spoke of “machinations” within and out OF GECOM, which were affecting his work. While he declined to go into detail about exactly what these machinations were, Patterson also complained about the court cases the secretariat has become embroiled in.“I personally have done all that is humanly possible, to weld the opposing factions together. It seems that things are getting worse. It seems that the understandable use of the legal system has become a tool of disruption.”“I am not saying that people who are aggrieved should not have access to the courts. But I believe at some time, some lawyer, some member of the petition may file an action in the court deeming, if it comes to that, the misuse of the legal system by any particular individual to have transgressed access to the court and deem him such.”The latest legal challenge against GECOM was a case filed to have 50 names removed from nominator lists for Local Government Elections. The applicants claim their names were fraudulently affixed to the lists and they were barred from removing them by Returning Officers.GECOM has also been hauled to court regarding the 2015 General and Regional Elections. Patterson’s appointment itself, which was under a cloud of controversy, was also challenged at the level of the High Court.After rejecting three lists of nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, President David Granger had gone ahead and appointed retired Justice Patterson as Chairman of GECOM. This decision had been, and continues to be, the centre of contention and debate, especially among civil society.In fact, it was as a result of this that People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Secretary, Zulficar Mustapha approached the High Court to challenge the appointment. But on June 8, 2018, acting Chief Justice Roxane George had ruled that the Constitution of Guyana allowed for the President to unilaterally appoint someone to fill the position of GECOM chair. As such, Mustapha subsequently filed legal proceedings to appeal the High Court decision.Qualifications trump racePatterson also confronted another controversy – the issue of an alleged ethnic imbalance at GECOM. When asked whether deliberate efforts to achieve racial diversity were being made, Patterson contended that deliberate efforts were being made to get the best people and he has “no apologies” for that.“We’re making deliberate efforts to get the best people on the job. Sometimes that collides with ethnic quantities. For example, like in the interior. You don’t expect to find the same racial mix as the coastland.”“Our (focus) is on getting the best people to do the jobs. Personally, I would make no apologies about that. When we have to make a choice, quality trumps race… I don’t see anything wrong with that. I won’t quarrel with anyone who disagrees. I speak for myself.”PPP Commissioners have raised concerns over the Commission’s hiring practises being skewered towards a particular ethnic group and indeed, have lodged a formal complaint with the Ethnic Relations Commission.In their complaint, they had noted that candidates applying for posts at GECOM were being scored and hired based on their ethnicity and perceived political alignment.
Members of the Loughside Community at last night’s launch.More than 100 people attended the launch of the Loughside Community Annual Plan for 2014 in the Silver Tassie last night.The Loughside area covers townlands from Letterkenny to Ramelton.The Loughside Community alert was set up by Noel Sweeney from Cashelshannaghan in November 2014 in response concerns by local residents after a number of burglaries took place in the local area. The group, which is now an affiliate member of Muintir na Tire, is up and running with a text alert system in operation and a hard working committee in place. The group has also been liaising with the Garda Siochana community officer.Interim Chairperson of the Loughside Community group Noel Sweeney said “We have received great support from the community and now have over 300 numbers on our text alert database”.“The committee has been working extremely hard since November and tonight we are presenting an Action Plan outlining our intentions for the rest of the year”.Noel says, “I have been very impressed with the positive response from the community as a whole”. “All of the committee members have stepped up and taken on shared responsibility for various activities in the action plan”. “Over the year, we will try to address the concerns of the Loughside Community and arrange a number of community events to help generate community spirit in the area”.The planned events include a 5Km fun walk/run, Area Clean up/Coffee Morning, a table quiz night and an end of year party night.The group will also put a funding plan in place, develop guidelines for supporting the vulnerable in the community, apply for personal alarms for older residents and roll out a network of Loughside Community Text Alerts signs throughout the Loughside.The Loughside area was divided into fifteen Townland Areas (TAs) and at least two TA coordinators were appointed for each Townland Area.The coordinators have been busy recruiting residents into the scheme and informing the community about the text alert scheme. Local technology company SENDMODE, based in the CoLAB at the LYIT, set up a text alert scheme for the group and sponsored the first 5,000 text messages. LOUGHSIDE COMMUNITY UNVEILS ITS ANNUAL PLAN was last modified: March 25th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegallaunchLoughside Community PlanNoel Sweeneytext alert