In light of recent comments made by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) General Secretary Clement Rohee who accused the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) of hiring the majority of its polling day staff from one particular ethnic group, Chairman of the elections body Dr Steve Surujbally has stated that comments such as these can create “cleavages” in society.
Dr Surujbally was at the time addressing the closing ceremony of a two-day training session for media operatives on Local Government Elections (LGE) on Sunday.
Last week, Rohee raised concerns about a distinct “ethnic imbalance” in the staff component at the country’s electoral institution and called on the diplomatic community to pay keen attention to the series of activities occurring on the lead-up to the March 18 LGE Day. The General Secretary had further pointed out that such imbalance is one of the tools being used to alter the results of the elections in a particular direction.
However, in responding to these comments, Dr Surujbally, pointed out that if this was indeed the case then it would mean that the elections body has lapsed and is bias, which he said, is not the case.
He said when persons make statements such as GECOM has hired or that its staff is 95 per cent of a particular ethnic group and the media reports it without investigating or verifying to see whether is it true, then it could cause societal divisiveness.
Dr Surujbally noted that the media as well as politicians should do their part in not only building a cohesive society, but should show the same attitude of togetherness in the thrust towards developing Guyana.
The Chairman stressed that the media in particular need to use its resources to convince the citizenry that they are one. “The motto said so – we are one and we cannot allow anybody to create a cleavage. It is more than a cleavage when you are saying that a large percentage of GECOM staff is a net of one ethnic group. What you’re saying is that that majority ethnic group that is within GECOM cannot in fact carry out a neutral position, have a neutral position and carry out with transparency a great election. Now that’s damning to that one ethnic group, how can you accept that,” he questioned.