GECOM caseNow that the Court of Appeal has granted an application to expedite the proceedings filed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in relation to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) chairmanship case, the Attorney representing the Party is hoping that a decision could be made before the Local or General Elections.Anil Nandlall told Guyana Times that the matter was of significant importance, and the issues which the case raises strike at the heart of constitutional democracy and are intricately connected to peace, order and good governance in the country.Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall“It is important that the appeal be heard and determined, if not for the Local Government Elections, certainly in time for the national and regional elections…The reason being is that these matters should be conclusively settled in the legal system before those elections are held,” he explained.According to Nandlall, either party may want to take the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) depending on the Court of Appeal’s ruling. He asserted that the appeal at the CCJ would need to be concluded in sufficient time for the 2020 elections to be held with a new chairman if necessary.Nandlall pointed to the scenario in Barbados where a person was prevented from being registered by the Chief Election Officer in that country. He recalled that that case started in January and by May the entire case was finished, from the High Court to the Court of Appeal to the CCJ, in time for the recent elections in Barbados.The Court of Appeal on Friday, July 27 granted an application to expedite the proceedings filed by PPP Executive Secretary Zulfikar Mustapha, who appealed the High Court ruling that upheld President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of GECOM.At the first hearing, Mustapha’s legal team, led by Nandlall, had applied for the matter to be expedited given the importance of the case. That application was granted by Acting Chancellor Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards, who agreed that the matter was one of “national importance”.However, this was not before the court heard arguments from both parties.Attorney General Basil Williams argued that the hearing of the appeal should be postponed to after the upcoming Local Government Elections (LGE), which were already set, and monies spent for preparations. However, Nandlall, a former Attorney General himself, dismissed those arguments, saying that the Local Government polls could always be rescheduled and pointing out that it was a concern.After hearing the arguments of the two sides, Justice Cummings-Edwards set October 4 as the soonest possible date for hearing the case. During this time, the parties will have to file their submissions with regard to the appeal case and the acting Chancellor urged them “to observe the timelines”.The acting Chancellor in her ruling on the ‘expedite request’ said that “…a hearing of the appeal should be conducted in a relatively short space of time …This is not to say we are not mindful of other matters that are before us, but such matters of national importance have been dealt with before”.Shortly after the hearing, Nandlall told reporters that he was pleased with the court’s decision, since the matter could have been fixed at a much later date. And Williams indicated to media operatives that he would be ready with his submissions, since they would be premised on the same arguments he proffered in court, stating that President Granger properly appointed the GECOM Chair and that acting Chief Justice Roxane George confirmed that appointment in her ruling last month.However, he was adamant that with November 12 already set as the date for the LGE this year, the appeal proceeding would not affect it. However, Nandlall contended that no monies were spent and that it would in no way affect the elections.After rejecting three lists of nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, President Granger went ahead and unilaterally appointed 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 the PPP Executive Secretary approached the High Court to challenge the appointment. But on June 8, 2018, acting Chief Justice 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 earlier this month filed legal proceedings to appeal the High Court decision.