GECOM Commissioners walk out of meeting with Chairman

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Opposition nominated Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Bibi Safora Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn walked out of a statutory meeting on Tuesday with Justice James Patterson on the grounds that the GECOM Chairman wants the Public Relations Officer (PRO) to be present at every statutory meeting.

The full statement from the Commissioners is below:

At the statutory meeting of the Guyana Election Commission held on the 27th, November 2018, opposition nominated Commissioners were forced to walk out when the Chairman James Patterson, decided that he was inviting GECOM Public Relations Officer to be present at every statutory meeting.

This was pursuant to a suggestion made by Commissioner Trotman who said that this was necessary because some Commissioners were going public on its discussions of the meetings.

He accused Commissioner Shadick of expressing views to the media on a weekly basis which contained misrepresentation and ‘lies’ on the discussions of the Commission.

Commissioner Benn expressed the view that the Chairman or CEO Lowenfield can, if necessary, invite persons to the meeting for specific information, or clarification on a matter being discussed, but had to have the agreement of the Commissioners to so do, and that the idea to have a subordinate officer in the person of the PRO, to have a permanent presence at the meeting to monitor and then confront a Commissioner in the media, was ludicrous.

He further said that if a matter reported on by a Commissioner needed response or clarification in the media, it was for the Chairman, CEO or other Commissioners to so do.

Commissioner Alexander, in supporting the positions of the Chairman and Trotman, stated, that it was the prerogative of the Chairman and the CEO to invite which ever member of staff to the meeting and that they do not need to have the agreement of the Commission.

Commissioner Shadick sought to have Commissioner Trotman identify for the Commission which lies she had represented in the media with respect to her comments about GECOM. Trotman refused to offer Shadick any response other than referring her to her writings.

Chairman Patterson did not protect Shadick nor did he ask Trotman to clarify or withdraw his remarks which Benn suggested were “slanderous” in the circumstance.

Commissioner Bibi Shadick suggested that given the situation, all GECOM meetings should be open to the Media and Public, in which case the PRO could be present.

Chairman Patterson, thereafter, persisted in his effort to have the PRO present at the Statutory meeting on a regular basis, with the vociferous support of Commissioners Alexander and Trotman.

As a result of the Chairman’s persistence in seeking to impose an undemocratic practice on the Commission, Commissioners Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn walked out of the meeting.

We commit to continue to expose the shenanigans at GECOM for the benefit of the Guyanese public.

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