Opposition Commissioners walk out of GECOM meeting

first_img…entity fails to produce claims of balance in hiringTension is rife at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) after People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Commissioners walked out of a meeting on Tuesday over complaints of Chairman James Patterson using his post to muzzle them.The Opposition is represented at GECOM by Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn, and Bibi Shaddick. They had already indicated that complaints would be filed with the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) over biases in employment practices.GECOM Commissioner Robeson BennBut tensions were high on Tuesday during a meeting with the Commissioners and Patterson. In a statement issued by these Commissioners, they complained about being gagged by the Chairman himself from seeking answers about the matter.“At the statutory meeting of June 5…Patterson raised the issue of a public statement made by Commissioner Benn regarding the ethnic composition of the workforce of the Secretariat of GECOM,” the Commissioners related in a statement.“In responding to the Chairman, Commissioner Benn attempted to justify his assertion and in doing so, pointed out that the perception was that the vast majority of the staff of the Commission was persons of one ethnic descent.”According to the PPP/C Commissioners, Patterson disputed Commissioner Benn’s claim without offering any evidence to substantiate his position. What happened next to Benn, a former Public Works Minister, would result in the PPP/C’s walkout.GECOM Commissioners from the Government side at the press conference on Tuesday afternoon, from left: Desmond Trotman, Vincent Alexander and Charles CorbinGECOM Chairman James Patterson“The Chairman prevented Commissioner Benn from defending his position and when challenged, adjourned the meeting for over half an hour,” the Commissioners related.  “Upon resumption, the Chairman announced that Commissioner Benn would not be recognised and, therefore, prevented from participating in the remainder of the meeting.  We were, therefore, forced to walk out of the meeting.”“We view this as a blatant attempt to censure and muzzle discussion on critical and important issues at the Commission in general; and in particular contributions on issues regarding ethnic diversity in hiring practices at the Commission. We hope that this is not an attempt to alter the delicatelast_img

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