– call for President to rescind GECOM Chair appointmentBy Vahnu ManikchandFollowing a two-month hiatus, Parliament reconvened on Thursday with high drama, as Opposition supporters and members of civil society staged a picketing exercise to voice their concerns over the unilateral appointment of Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).Braving the light afternoon shower, hundreds of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) supporters stood in front of Parliament Buildings holding up placards and chanting slogans. Many of those protesters were also heard venting their anger at the President’s appointment of the 84-year-old retired judge at the helm of the Elections Commission.The protesters criticised the move, calling for the President to rescind his decision and appoint a new chairman – this time, from the three lists submitted by the Opposition.One protester told Guyana Times the President is answerable to the people of this country as to why he rejected the 18 names nominated by the Opposition Leader for the GECOM Chairmanship post and went ahead to not only unilaterally appoint a chairman, but appoint an 84-year-old.PPP MP Irfaan Ally (at the back) and businessman Peter Ramsaroop also protested the appointment of the GECOM Chairman“He pick an old man like (Justice) Patterson to be the GECOM Chairman… The president should ask him to step down immediately, and give the post of GECOM Chair to a younger person, someone who is on one of the three lists,” the woman asserted.Region Five Representative Fizal Jafarally told this newspaper that he and dozens of PPP supporters had travelled all the way to Georgetown to protest the fact that the Head of State had violated the ‘letter and spirit’ of the Constitution by making a unilateral appointment.“The Constitution is very clear that (the President) must appoint from a list submitted by the Opposition Leader, and the only way he can appoint unilaterally is if the leader failed to provide the list. However, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo, has indeed provided three lists, and that is why we are here in our hundreds, because we see this unilateral appointment as an attack on democracy in Guyana,” he posited.PPP supporters outside of Parliament Buildings on Thursday afternoonAccording to Jafarally, the party and its supporters will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that citizens’ rights and democracy are preserved.Several Opposition Parliamentarians participated in the picketing exercise, reiterating their disapproval of the appointment of the new GECOM Chairman.PPP Executive Member and Member of Parliament, Irfaan Ally, explained that the exercise is a “peaceful” demonstration of Guyanese standing up for their rights, for democracy, and standing up against dictatorship and the unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chairman without any regard for the Constitution.“You are hearing the voices of the people against this undemocratic and unprincipled move… We are hoping that good sense will prevail when the President hears the voice of the people, standing up against his unilateral decision that is undemocratic and unconstitutional,” he said.Ally noted that citizens of the country have a responsibility and duty to protect the democracy, and that is what they are doing through the protest action.Meanwhile, upon his arrival at Parliament, Jagdeo was greeted by the protestors with loud cheers and praising chants. He took time to greet the supporters and engage media operatives before heading into the Chambers for the day’s session.He posited that while being cautious because of the ongoing court proceedings, his party will continue efforts to denounce the unilateral appointment of the GECOM Chairman.“The President has taken a very divisive action that is polarising the country and making it about race too. His entire government is making this about race. What he has done here is abandon 25 years of history between the PPP and the PNC (People’s National Congress) – a common understanding of the Constitution… What they’ve been doing is to say it is time to appoint an Afro-Guyanese, so the President had no choice but to do this. But what about the five Afro-Guyanese on the list? The only disqualification is that they are impartial, (but) he wanted an Afro-Guyanese that is pro-PNC, and that is not provided for in the Constitution,” the Opposition Leader stated.Jagdeo noted that the Head of State was not only unconstitutional in his unilateral decision, but he broke the law by not adhering to the ruling handed down by acting Chief Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire, who had said that the President must give reasons for rejecting candidates submitted by the Opposition.“Why not give reasons for why each of the 18 candidates were unsuitable, unfit and improper? Why not do that?” Jagdeo asserted.Guyana Times caught up with the newly elected GECOM Chairman late on Thursday afternoon. He had attended Parliament to hear the President’s address to the National Assembly, done earlier, and he indicated that he is unfazed by the activities held.“That is not something that excites me, you know; but you can’t be timid when you getting into politics and, indeed, law,” he said to reporters in the compound of the Parliament Buildings.But as the Opposition supporters continued their protest, eager and angered bystanders started to converge and begin an informal counter-protest, praising the work of the Coalition Government.
But, as Sarri prepared to send on reserve keeper Willy Caballero, Kepa signalled that he was fit to carry on.Sarri insisted Kepa come off, but the Spaniard wouldn’t budge, leading to a furious meltdown from the Chelsea boss, who briefly stormed down the tunnel before returning to his post.The match finished 0-0 and City went onto win 4-3 on penalties, despite Kepa saving Leroy Sane’s effort in the shoot-out.Kompany, who came on at half-time for the injured Aymeric Laporte, said he had never seen anything like it.“Of course I’ve never seen it. I wish I could do it every now and then when I don’t want to get subbed off,” Kompany said.Kompany said he was glad not to face Caballero, who helped City win the 2016 League Cup final by saving three penalties in a shoot-out against Liverpool.“I know how good Willy is on penalties, when we won this competition against Liverpool he was tremendous, he won the penalties for us and it would be another mind game to be played,” Kompany said.“It didn’t happen and the confidence was there to score the penalties.”Former Chelsea captain John Terry, watching the match as a pundit for Sky Sports, called on Sarri to resolve the situation immediately.“It will be interesting to see if Kepa plays the next game. If I was in the dressing room I would expect the manager to come in and deal with it straight away,” Terry said.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany was stuned by the row between Chelsea’s Maurizio Sarri and Kepa Arrizabalaga © AFP / Adrian DENNISLONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 24 – Manchester City star Vincent Kompany admitted he was stunned to see Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refuse to be substituted during an astonishing League Cup final row with Blues boss Maurizio Sarri.Kepa was set to be replaced in the final moments of extra-time after going down with cramp for the second time in the Wembley clash.