Following a thorough investigation into the hiring practices of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), the finding revealed that Vishnu Persaud, the former acting Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) was the most qualified candidate to take up the post.
The report of the findings was presented to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) earlier today. The commission had ordered an investigation into an allegation made by People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) GECOM Commissioners Bibi Shadick, Sase Gunraj and Robeson Benn, that there was an ethnic imbalance at the elections body and hiring practices were being manipulated in favour of one group.
As such, Retired Justice Stanley Moore, who had served as Home Affairs Minister under late President LFS Burnham during the People’s National Congress (PNC) regime, along with former Deputy Commissioner of Police Lloyd Smith and human resources consultant Jairam Petam, was recruited to conduct an investigation.
The team was supposed to complete the probe in three weeks during October of 2018 but the time was extended as the probe widened.
In 2018, the Elections Commission was embroiled in controversy after it was alleged former acting Deputy Chief Elections Officer Vishnu Persaud was overlooked for the position because of his ethnicity despite him being the top ranked candidate.
The Commission went ahead and hired the second-ranked candidate Roxanne Meyers, after GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice James Patterson broke the deadlock and voted in favour of her.
Since then, there have been allegations that candidates applying for posts at GECOM were being rejected and accepted based on their ethnicity and political alignment.
After these claims were made, the ERC had met with Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo, where the matters were raised. The ERC also met with President David Granger at that time.
At a press conference prior to the probe, the GECOM Chairman had said that qualifications ultimately trumped race when filling vacancies. When asked whether deliberate efforts to achieve racial diversity were being made, Patterson had contended that deliberate efforts were being made to get the best people and that he had “no apologies” for that.