Opposition nominated Commissioners deny stalling work of GECOM

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Opposition nominated Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) on Tuesday again walked out of the Commission’s statutory meeting –this time as they attempted to place added issues on the agenda for discussions.

On leaving GECOM’s office on Tuesday, Commissioner Sase Gunraj told the media that Commissioner Robeson Benn “raised an issue of procurement and he also raised about the ERC (Ethnic Relations Commission) report in relation to the former Deputy Chief Elections Officer,” which he wanted to be discussed at the meeting.

“The reality is, there are issues that have to be discussed at this Commission and there are wide-ranging issues that affect the work of the Commission,” Gunraj said.

The ERC report examined the appointment of Roxanne Myers as Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) over former DCEO, Vishnu Persaud. The report handed over to the National Assembly on Friday stated that Justice James Patterson, the Chairman of GECOM voted against hiring Persaud based on his conclusion that he was “shifty” and lies about his qualifications; but the chairman provided no proof to back up his claims.

It has been eight weeks now that the Opposition nominated Commissioners have been walking out of the meetings.

Government Commissioners have claimed that the three Commissioners are stalling the work of the Elections Commission but during an interview with the media, Commissioner, Sase Gunraj denied that this is the case.

GECOM Commissioner, Vincent Alexander

“If we can’t be allowed to have our voices heard on those and in fact, all of the issues that affect the work of this commission, then it makes no sense in participating,” he stated.

Government nominated commissioner Vincent Alexander reported that the agenda for meetings are set before and therefore cannot be amended at the meeting.

Alexander told the media that the reports on the work of the Secretariat have not been read since the walkout began in March.

“For the longest, while we haven’t got past introductory remarks,” he noted.

In the reports, he said, “there may be issues on which the administration wishes to be advised…but in the absence of discussions, they have to just keep things going as they are.”

Since the passage of the No-Confidence motion against the Government on December 21, 2018, the PPP nominated Commissioners have not sat through any GECOM meeting in protest of the Commission’s decision to move ahead with its house-to-house registration exercise.

The Commission is training staff to begin registration exercises in June.

At the last meeting, Commissioner Bibi Shadick requested that the meetings cease until the CCJ rules on matters relating to the motion. The CCJ has set the hearings on the case for May 10 and 11.

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