The Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Retired Justice James Patterson on Tuesday used his casting vote to reject the re-hiring of Vishnu Persaud as Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DECO), a move the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has condemned.
“I have great fears that we cannot rely on informed rational fair judgements of the chair of the Elections Commission in the position which he occupies,” said PPP-nominated Commissioner, Robeson Benn. He contended that “on the principle of meritocracy, this could not stand”.
The GECOM Chairman could not be reached by telephone.
Fellow GECOM Commissioner, Bibi Shadick said although Persaud was evaluated in the interviews as the top-ranked candidate, the GECOM Chairman three weeks later on Tuesday voted against Persaud, an East Indo-Guyanese, returning to GECOM.
Instead, she said Justice Patterson voted for Roxanne Myers, an Afro-Guyanese, to be the next DCEO of the elections management authority. “This thing is now blatant discrimination on the basis of race,” she said.
Shadick said a complaint would be lodged to the Ethnic Relations Commission so that a probe could be lodged. Shadick assured that the PPP did not prefer Persaud because of political considerations. “Vishnu Persaud was no friend of the PPP was never giving secrets or cooperating with the PPP. He was doing a professional job. We have no personal reason for wanting him there,” she said.
The lone female GECOM Commissioner warned that “this is not something that we would sit and take” and she feared that a plan was being hatched against her party. “The way we see it is the deck is being stacked to achieve a certain result, a result we consider unpalatable,” she said.
The PPP is already on record as objecting to President David Granger’s unilateral appointment of Justice Patterson as GECOM Chairman. That party has since lodged an appeal to the High Court’s decision that the President has the unilateral right to reject the Opposition Leader’s nominees for GECOM Chairman and appoint someone from the judicial category.