GECOM chairmanship appealThe Court of Appeal on Friday granted an application to expedite the proceedings filed by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Executive Secretary, Zulfikar Mustapha, who is appealing the High Court ruling that upheld President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Retired Justice James Patterson as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).At the first hearing on Wednesday, Mustapha’s legal team, led by Attorney-at-Law Anil Nandlall, had applied for the matter to be expedited given the importance of the case. As such, at Friday’s hearing, the Appeal Court panel, led by acting Chancellor of the Judiciary, Justice Yonnette Cummings-Edwards, agreed with Nandlall that the matter was one of “national importance” and should be expedited.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 the Party’s paramount concern was to have the appeal determined way ahead of the 2020 General and Regional Elections so that there was sufficient time for further appeal at the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) if necessary.After hearing the arguments of the two sides, Justice Cummings-Edwards set October 4 as the soonest possible date. 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.Nandlall went on to say that he did not see any issue with the LGE being rescheduled if the court ruled in a particular way since December was initially earmarked for the Elections.On the other hand, AG 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 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.“We made our application on law, that is, when Mr Nandlall filed his action, an election date has not been announced. An election date is now announced and it means that the process has commenced and the courts really ought not to interfere with that process … The law tells you quite clearly, the court shouldn’t stop any election by an application made before the holding of the elections because of the volume of money and activities that would have already been spent and already undergone. It didn’t make sense; it would be more debilitating than progressing,” the AG pointed out.However, Attorney Nandlall contended that no monies were spent.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.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, 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.