By Abena Rockcliffe-Campbell
Peoples Progressive Party/Civic Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) are of the opinion that if the principle of meritocracy was employed, Vishnu Persaud would have been re-appointed Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO).
They claim, however, that because Persaud is of East Indian descent, GECOM Chairman, James Patterson, voted against his appointment.
This was expressed by PPP/C Commissioners yesterday afternoon at an impromptu press conference held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition.
Commissioners Robeson Benn, Sase Gunraj and Bibi Shadick all presented on the “unpalatable” state of affairs at GECOM.
Shadick told the media that for the second consecutive week, she and her two colleagues staged a walked out from a GECOM statutory meeting.
She said that this was after the GECOM Chairman used his casting vote to support the PNCR-nominated Commissioners’ rejection of Persaud.
Shadick said that the casting vote exercised by the GECOM Commissioner was placed in favour of the number-two ranked applicant, an Afro-Guyanese, Roxanne Myers.
Shadick and Benn said that they argued, during the statutory meeting, that Persaud not only managed to survive the evaluation process, but is a person who functioned in the position for several years, has had positive performance evaluations during those years, and is “eminently qualified.”
Shadick said that Persaud was made to re-apply for a job he held because his contract came to an end at a time when there was no functioning Commission, following the resignation of former GECOM Chairman, Dr. Steve Surujbally. The contracts of the Assistant Chief Elections Officer (ACEO), the Logistics Manager and others were also not renewed for this reason.
Shadick said that the post of DCEO was not the only one GECOM attempted to fill recently.
Commissioners also interviewed candidates for the posts of Information Technology Manager, Public Relations Officer and Legal Officer.
She said that the top ranking candidates of all the other positions turned out to be of Afro ancestry and they were all appointed. “But the one Indo-Guyanese who ranked number one is not being appointed.”
Commissioner Benn said that he had qualms about the appointment of the Legal Officer, Excellence Dazzell. He said that he does not think she is suited for the job, but accepted that she emerged as the top ranking candidate, “but the same was not done for Persaud…The state of affairs represents a failure to respect and adhere to the principle of meritocracy and does not facilitate greater diversity in the hiring done by GECOM.”
Further, Shadick said that she was disposed to pronouncing about the suitability of Dazzell at that forum. However Shadick noted that Patterson noted his preference for Dazzell.
Then, the Chairman even sat in during the panel’s interview of Dazzell. Shadick said that Patterson did not sit in on any of the other interviews, “and this interview was done on a Saturday.”
Shadick said that the PPP/C will be writing a letter to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) today. The ERC has a constitutional mandate to address such concerns.
Shadick said that the PPP/C will also raise the matter at the international level. She did not give a timeline as to when that will be done. However, Shadick was keen to note repeatedly, “We will not sit and allow this. They are setting the stage for a result that would be very unpalatable.”
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