Govt, Opposition Commissioners in support of public scrutiny of GECOM’s statutory meetings

Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn
Commissioner Robeson Benn

During an appearance on Globespan 24×7 live show in New York on Sunday, Government-nominated Commissioner at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Vincent Alexander and fellow Opposition-nominated Commissioner Robeson Benn, when asked whether they were in favour of GECOM’s statutory meetings being open to the public, they both responded that this is something they wished to see and would back moves to ensure this happens.

They both agreed that this approach is needed to minimise contention in the public domain and in the interest of transparency regarding the work of the constitutional body.

Government Commissioners Desmond Trotman, Vincent Alexander and Charles Corbin

According to Alexander, however, acceptance of this suggestion was entirely up to the Commission. But according to Benn, his previous efforts to bring transparency to these meetings through this measure were thwarted by successive Commissions.

“When [Dr Steve] Surujbally was Chairman, at one of my first interactions I said the meetings of GECOM should be public … that there should be a gallery that the media and the public should be there, so that all that is said and done would be free and open. This was rejected,” the PPP Commissioner stressed.

“I said this more recently at a meeting of the present Commission (headed by retired Justice James Patterson). They don’t want to hear about that, because they don’t want to put the discussions out there and the constitutional requirements of GECOM, to be out there in the public,” Benn contended.

Meanwhile, Guyana is still waiting for the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to confirm or reverse the Appeal Court’s ruling on the validity of the December 21 no-confidence motion against the APNU/AFC Government.

There is a real possibility that GECOM will be called upon to fast track the holding of elections.