IAC calls for CoI into GECOM employment practices

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The Indian Action Committee (IAC) on Wednesday made a call for Government to launch a Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the employment practices at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

File photo: Justice (retired) James Patterson signs the Oath, which accords him the powers and authority as Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM)

The “Indian Action Committee (IAC), having followed the recent developments at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), calls for an immediate investigation primarily through a Commission of Inquiry (COI),” the entity said in a press statement.

According to the statement, the Committee believes that the uncertainty that prevails regarding the employment ratio of ethnic groups at the GECOM demands an investigation at the level of a CoI.

“… it becomes compelling given the national sensitivities involved and the impact it could have on the credibility of GECOM and the national election machinery. In the interest of national harmony and confidence in the electoral process, the IAC urges the Head of State, David Granger, to not delay the commissioning of an independent COI into the employment practice at GECOM,” they reiterated.

Moreover, the organisation explained that the expectation is that if such an investigation is launched, that it must “focus on the revelation of facts about whether the integrity of the process has been deliberately compromised to give an unfair advantage to those perceived to be in allegiance with the government as alleged.”

The COI, through its findings, must also thoroughly explain why Vishnu Persaud, who reportedly scored the highest in the evaluation process and who has some three years on the job experience, was deliberately overlooked for the position of Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), which he held, by someone who scored lower and believably has no related job experience, the statement said.

The IAC also indicated that it is mindful of information in the public domain which alleges the composition of the senior staff at GECOM reflecting only one ethnic group and an allegation that applicants of Indo-Guyanese extraction were deliberately scored low in the evaluation process.

Vishnu Persaud

“While the IAC believes that meritocracy must be foremost, it finds it difficult to accept that persons from other ethnicities could not have been found to be competent. If true, the impact of this on other groups, including Indo-Guyanese, would be devastating, disrespectful and clearly, a calculative ploy to not only deprive them of their rights for employment but [sends] a strong signal that they do not belong within the confines of this important national institution.”

Even though Persaud proved to be the top ranking candidate for the post of the DCEO at GECOM, earlier this month, a casting vote made by Chairman of the Commission, retired Justice James Patterson, chose Roxanne Meyers for the position.

This action came in light of the recent disclosures made by PPP officials that candidates applying for posts at GECOM were being rejected and accepted based on their ethnicity and political alignment.

A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) Commissioner, Vincent Alexander was recorded in the media defending the decision to appoint Roxanne Meyers- the runner up for the position, arguing that “Vishnu emerged with the highest average because the PPP scored him very high, we [APNU] scored him average and therefore he emerged with the highest score.”

According to him, Meyers was more qualified for the position as she held a B+ Master’s Degree average and Persaud holds a D+.

Persaud however, had earlier defended his track record as DCEO stating that “I have always done my work professionally. I have never had racial or political bias in my work. I have never showed any … and I would not want to make a comment that would cast a shadow on my past record,” he insisted.

He also appealed for those who were making comments which are false and not factual about his previous stint at GECOM to desist from doing so, as he stoutly defended his performance at every level of assignment.

“I would ask those people who are seeking to cast aspersions on my reputation to refrain from doing so and judge me on the basis of what you know of me and not on what is perceived,” he proffered.

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