GECOM Deputy CEO position: Chair overlooks top ranking candidate Vishnu Persaud

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…Opposition Commissioners accuse Patterson of employment discrimination

The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Commissioners on Tuesday afternoon accused the Chairman of the Elections Commission, James Patterson of blatant employment discrimination in the appointment of a Deputy Chief Elections Officer (CEO) at GECOM.

File photo: GECOM Commissioners; from left, Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn and Bibi Shadick

The Commissioners accused Patterson of using his deciding vote to block the appointment of former Deputy CEO Vishnu Persaud, in favour of someone who was scored less by interviewers.

After the Chairman made his announcement the Opposition Commissioners walked out of the meeting that was held today (Tuesday).

According to Commissioner, Bibi Shadick during an urgent press conference that was held afterwards at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, an Indo-Guyanese, identified as Vishnu 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, Roxanne Myers- who is of Afro-Guyanese descent.

File photo: James Patterson signs the Oath, which accords him the powers and authority as Chairman of GECOM after being unilaterally selected by President David Granger

“Vishnu Persaud, who had served as the Deputy CEO for at least three years, was told that he had to reapply. The interviews were held…at the end of the interviews, people were scored, …on that average, in every case, except the Deputy CEO’s case, the top ranking candidate was selected. The Deputy CEO position ranked Vishnu Persaud, an Indo-Guyanese as top rank…the second was Roxanne Myers…The three Commissioners on our side, decided on principles thus choosing the top ranker, however the three Commissioners on the other side chose the second ranking candidate. The chairman, as a casting vote, (then)… announced that the position will be offered to Ms. Roxanne Meyers,” Shadick explained to media operatives.

Commissioner Robeson Benn has expressed absolute disappointment on behalf of his colleagues, at the decision made by the Chairman of GECOM to not appoint Vishnu Persaud as the Deputy CEO while outlining also that the Government Commissioners raised “spurious” objections to his appointment.

File photo: Prior to holding the post of Deputy Chief Elections Officer, Vishnu Persaud was also the Public Relations Officer at GECOM

“We the PPP/C nominated Commissioners at GECOM would like to bring to the public’s attention our disappointment and regret…at the casting vote of the Chairman in which he decided that Vishnu Persaud will not be appointed as Deputy CEO,” he said.

Moreover, he maintained that Persaud was the best candidate for the job.

“Persaud emerged as the best ranked candidate…On our side, we thought that these objections were scurrilous…and could only be described at this point in time as not being fair,” Benn said.

Moreover, he pointed out that the PPP Commissioners intend to take action and approach the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) with this issue.

“We have grave concerns where a Guyanese, who is imminently qualified for the position,…all his appraisals were excellent, that in the decision of the Chairman, he should not have been chosen as the Deputy CEO…This is a matter of fairness, which we believe we have to take action and making approaches to Ethnic Relations Commission,” he asserted.

Last week, the Opposition nominated Commissioners walked out of a meeting with the entity’s chairman after being disallowed from probing the concerns raised that 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.

Opposition leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

On the heels of this, Opposition Leader, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has been recorded in the media asserting 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 said in a recent press conference.

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