CARICOM Team flags APNU/AFC over attempts to “manipulate” GECOM Chair

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Justice Claudette Singh had to face “constant maneuverings” by political parties “as they attempted to manipulate” her during her new stint as Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission.

This was the position surmised by the high-level CARICOM Team which observed the recount exercise.

Justice Singh became Chairperson of GECOM in July 2019 following an agreement between Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and the then President David Granger.

However, during her time as Head of the Commission, “there was certainly intense psychological warfare waged” against her.

The CARICOM Team singled out one particular instance whereby “one political party besieged the Chair with a score of letters alleging irregularities and demanding decisions from the Commission.”

It was the APNU/AFC Campaign Manager Joseph Harmon who wrote some 11 letters to the Chairperson; he too had “demanded” answers from Justice Singh – a move which was already condemned by the PPP/C.

Moreover, CARICOM Team said it also took note of “massive pressure exerted upon her from both forces internal to the Commission and external to the Commission.”

The Team noted that in many respects, “the Chair was invariably in the position of a referee in a very intense and hostile football match, with GECOM ultimately being played like the proverbial football.”

See excerpt from the CARICOM Team’s Report:

As a Team we are deeply sympathetic to the plight of the chair of GECOM who must walk a
difficult road on a daily basis. We were fortunate to have had several audiences with the Chair who shared with us her frustrations with the Commission having to walk a very thin line between the two political camps.

Retired Justice Singh who appeared to adopt a largely consensual approach in her leadership style seemed frustrated with the inability of the Commissioners to take decisions and conclude discussions. Instead she noted that on too regular a basis, issues which were well ventilated were revisited as the political party nominated commissioner attempted to position their respective political party.

Justice Singh seemed to be always amenable to the political parties and this too may have created additional pressures as they attempted to leverage further influence over the decision making of the Commission.

Behind the scenes there was constant maneuverings by parties and Commissioners as they attempted to manipulate the Chair of GECOM who is relatively new to the position having only been appointed to the post in 2019.

For instance, one political party besieged the Chair with a score of letters alleging irregularities and demanding decisions from the Commission.

The Team applauds the Chair for her strength during this pressurized period. And we do say strength, despite the labelling of weak heaped upon her by Commissioners who were unable to get their view supported by the Chair Chair who has the casting vote. We note that this labelling is driven primarily by self-interest.

There was certainly intense psychological warfare waged on the Chair but she remained resolute and determined to respect the legal framework. The TEAM took note of the massive pressure exerted upon her from both forces internal to the Commission and external to the Commission. In many respects, the chair was invariably in the position of a referee in a very intense and hostile football match, with GECOM ultimately being played like the proverbial football. If any criticism can be levelled against the Chair, it may be her failure to appreciate her political resources and her reluctance to engage too much with the media.