ERC to meet Opposition Leader on GECOM ethnic bias complaint

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The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) is expected to meet Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo to discuss matters related to complaints of ethnic bias at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

Leader of the Opposition Dr Bharat Jagdeo

Jagdeo himself spoke of this impending meeting during his weekly press conference.

“Last week, I received a letter from the ERC saying that they would like to pay a courtesy call on me to have a discussion,” Jagdeo related. “So I’m waiting for that to take place. At that meeting, I will raise these and some other matters in keeping with their mandate.”

On Friday, when this media group made contact with ERC Chairman Dr John Smith, he confirmed that the commissioners intend to have a meeting with the Opposition Leader.

While there is no definitive date set aside, the Chairman noted, the meeting will happen soon.

Last week, GECOM Commissioners Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn wrote a letter of complaint to the ERC, contending there is a manifest ethnic imbalance at GECOM, and that hiring practices are being manipulated in favour of one group. The letter has asked for the commission to investigate.

Asked for an update on this matter, Smith said investigations have not yet commenced, owing to financial and staffing challenges. According to Smith, the commission has “to get staff. We advertised for staff and are working to get the machine in place so we can do the work.”

Meanwhile, the commissioners met with President David Granger on Friday at the Ministry of the Presidency, during which the Head of State described the ERC as perhaps the single most important commission in existence in Guyana at this time.

ERC Chairman Dr John Smith informed that since resuscitation of this commission, the ERC has been flooded with requests. Some of the main issues that engaged the Commission’s attention were the allegations of discrimination at Mae’s School, which has since been resolved; and claims of ethnic imbalance at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

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