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Remove GECOM Chairman’s casting vote- Norton

Last Updated on Friday, 1 April 2022, 7:31 by Denis Chabrol

President David Granger administered the Oath of Office to Justice Claudette Singh, SC, CCH. She was sworn-in as the new Chairman of the Elections Commission. In this file photo, Justice Singh takes the Oath of Office at the Ministry of the Presidency. 

Leader of the People’s National Congress Reform, Aubrey Norton on Thursday said he wanted the removal of the casting vote of the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).

“What we have to probably do is to have some mechanism that we should not give a casting vote to the Chair because when you give a casting vote to the Chair and the Chair isn’t independently, you are readily saying there are four against three rather than 3-3 with an independent chairman,” he said on Politics 101, a social media programme that is hosted by Working People’s Alliance (WPA) Executive Member, Professor David Hinds.

He backed up his call by again levelling accusations against the incumbent Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh that she is biased and constantly votes with the People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated election commissioners to secure majority decisions by the six-member commission. ”

Mr. Norton was not entirely convinced that the 3-3-1 model of the Commission that was introduced in 1990 as part of sweeping electoral reforms was a bad one, but said its function had over the years become skewed because the Chairman was not independent. “Former judge Claudette Singh has outlived her usefulness as a person who can be considered an independent for a commission as it is presently structured and so she needs to go her way,” he said.

The PNCR Leader credited former GECOM Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally with forging consensus among the three opposition and three government-backed commissioners during his tenure.  “From his performance, what he did was rarely used the casting vote and sought to bring consensus and, in fact, it is reflected on that period that caused us to arrive at the conclusion that we probably need to remove the casting vote because in the hands of a partisan, the casting vote will destroy any attempt at democracy,” he said.

Mr. Norton said there “is going to be a real fight” because going to an election under the current conditions was not possible.