The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) nominated Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioners have officially written to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) with regards to the recent decision made by the Chairman of GECOM, retired Justice James Patterson to overlook top-ranked candidate Vishnu Persaud in favour of Roxanne Myers in the selection of a new Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) at the entity.
This was confirmed on Thursday during a press conference with Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo at his Church Street office.
According to Jagdeo, “The Commissioners have already written to the Ethnic Relations Commission and we are going to ensure that there is a full-fledged investigation,” Jagdeo said.
Moreover, he expressed optimism that the matter will be dealt with accordingly, since the Constitution clearly stipulates the mandate of the ERC in matters of discrimination.
“The Constitution makes it very clear what it (ERC) can do and one of which is to provide equality within persons of different ethnic groups…investigate complaints of racial discrimination and make recommendations on measures to be taken if such complaints prove to be valid” he explained.
Probed as to whether he expected any resolution from the ERC before the Elections, Jagdeo said “I hope that the ERC will work expeditiously.”
On Tuesday last, the PPP Commissioners accused Patterson of employment discrimination by using his deciding vote to block the appointment of Persaud, in favour of Myers who was scored less by interviewers and said that they would approach the ERC over the matter.
According to Commissioner, Bibi Shadick, Persaud received the top ranking vote at the end of the interview for the post, however, the position was handed to the second ranking interviewee, Myers.
Commissioner Robeson Benn had expressed absolute disappointment on behalf of his colleagues, at Patterson’s decision to not appoint Persaud.
Moreover, he maintained that Persaud was the best candidate for the job.
Persaud was serving as the DCEO since 2014 at GECOM, however, when his contract expired at the entity; he was informed that he had to re-apply for the post.
Last week, the Opposition nominated Commissioners walked out of a statutory meeting with the entity’s chairman after being disallowed from probing the concerns raised that a majority of the staff within GECOM are of one ethnic descent.
Executive member of the PPP, Dr Roger Luncheon had said that the matter was brought to his attention by several sources who indicated their observations that the People’s National Congress (PNC) Commissioners at GECOM are allegedly engaged in a process to eliminate candidates for advertised positions at the GECOM Secretariat.
On the heels of this, Jagdeo had said that his Party intends to continue their monitoring of the ethnic composition at the GECOM and “expose every breach at the entity’s level, so as to ensure free and fair future elections.”
Moreover, Jagdeo had said that the issue of the ethnic composition of staff at GECOM has nothing to do with race but more to do with ensuring equality.
“This is not about a race issue. This is a fairness issue. This is about equity, this is about rights of Guyanese to be treated fairly, equally, and not have …APNU people in there discriminate against people for political purposes… This is the worry that we have. This is about fairness, about the right to be treated fairly as a Guyanese,” he posited in a press conference prior to this one. (Ramona Luthi)