PPP Commissioners walk out of heated meeting with GECOM Boss

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Commissioners representing the Opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Tuesday walked out of the statutory meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) following a heated exchange with the Chairman, Justice James Patterson.

The Office of the Leader of the Opposition in a statement noted that the Commissioners were forced to abruptly leave the meeting after the GECOM Boss announced that Commissioner Robeson Benn will not be “recognised” or allowed to further participate.

At the meeting, the GECOM Chairman raised the issue of a public statement made by Commissioner Benn where he claimed that there was bias in the ethnic composition of the high level staff at the Secretariat, the PPP/C said.

The Party said Benn attempted to justify his assertion to Patterson but “the Chairman disputed Commissioner Benn’s claim without offering any evidence to substantiate his position”.

According to the Opposition Party, “the Chairman prevented Commissioner Benn from defending his position and when challenged, adjourned the meeting for over half an hour”.

The PPP/C claimed that when the meeting was resumed, Patterson announced that Commissioner Benn was banned from participating in the remainder of the meeting.

It was following this announcement that the PPP Commissioners decided to leave the meeting. The other two Commissioners are Sase Gunraj and Bibi Shaddick.

The PPP/C said the posture of the GECOM Chairman towards Commissioner Benn is an attempt to “censure and muzzle discussion on critical and important issues at the Commission in general, and in particular contributions on issues regarding ethnic diversity in hiring practices at the Commission”.

“We have a constitutional mandate to execute and do not serve at the pleasure of the Chairman of the Commission. We hope that this is not an attempt to alter the delicate balance contemplated by the Constitution in the composition of the Commission,” the Party stated.

The Government-aligned Commissioners have called an emergency press conference to respond to the issue.

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