PPP nominated commissioners call on Alexander to cease attacks on GECOM Chair
The three People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Sase Gunraj, Clement Rohee and Manoj Narayan, have called on APNU+AFC Commissioner to cease his attacks on GECOM Justice (Ret’d) Chairperson Claudette SIngh.
The Commissioners contend that certain allegations levelled against Justice Singh are intended to intimidate her as she executes her duties, and attack the institution itself.
See below the full letter from the three commissioners:
Our attention have been drawn to a letter penned by Vincent Alexander, GECOM Commissioner, published in the Stabroek News on the 14th of September, 2022, at page six (6), under the headline “The GECOM Chair voted against an extension of claims”.
We acknowledge that the Chairwoman of GECOM, the Honourable Justice of Appeal (retired), Madam Claudette Singh, SC, CCH, is more than capable of defending herself and responding to the criticism and accusations levelled against her in the said letter, however, we will be remiss in our duties and responsibilities as Commissioners if we allow the public record to be contaminated with the blatant false and misleading statements peddled in the letter.
For the record, we were all present at GECOM’s statutory meeting on the 13th of September, 2022, when the Chair of GECOM informed the Commissioners that the Chief Elections Officer received a letter dated the 13th of September, 2022, from A Partnership For National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) requesting an extension of Claims in the ongoing Claims and Objections process. The Commission thereafter held discussions to determine whether the request should be granted.
It must be stated for the record that the Chair of GECOM, at no time whatsoever during these deliberations, voted against the grant of the extension of Claims sought. In fact, the deliberations on the issue of granting or refusing the request for an extension was not concluded at the statutory meeting on the 13th of September, 2022. Therefore, the headline of the letter is blatantly false and misleading.
The decision taken by the Chair of GECOM is that the Chief Elections Officer immediately writes to the governing political party, the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C), and other parliamentary opposition parties informing them of the request of APNU+AFC and soliciting their views. This decision was not done to have the “PPP/C determine whether citizens can realize their rights”, as contended by Commissioner Alexander in his letter but was done in the interest of fairness and transparency and to inquire whether other stakeholders political parties experienced similar issues during the Claims process as those experienced by APNU+AFC. This letter was dispatched by the CEO after the meeting on the 13th of September, 2022.
On the 14th of September, 2022, GECOM held another meeting of the Commission where deliberations continued on the issue of the request by APNU + AFC. It was reported by the Chair of GECOM that the Commission received a response from the PPP/C.
At the close of these deliberations, the Chair of GECOM voted in favour of granting the extension of time as requested by APNU + AFC. At no time prior to this did the Chair of GECOM vote against the extension sought or made any decision that was adverse to the grant of such a request.
The allegations levelled by Commissioner Alexander against the Chair of GECOM are another unjustified and unwarranted attack on the integrity, impartiality and professionalism of the Chair, all designed and intended to intimidate the Chair. In fact, such tactics are part of a recent scheme of intimidation utilized by several leaders of APNU + AFC and the Commissioners appointed by that party to influence the decisions of the Chair of GECOM. We feel compelled to protect the integrity, the independence and the autonomy of GECOM as a Constitutional Commission, its Chair and by extension all officers and employees of GECOM’s Secretariat against such intimidatory tactics, obviously designed to undermine its independence.
We hereby call upon Commissioner Alexander to withdraw the statements and allegations attributed to the Chair of GECOM and to offer an apology.