Opposition-nominated GECOM commissioners today walked out of a meeting of GECOM following controversy over a statement by Commissioner Robeson Benn.
Statement by Opposition nominated Commissioners of the Guyana Elections Commission
At the statutory meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission of the 5thJune, 2018, the Chairman of the Commission, Mr. James Patterson, raised the issue of a public statement made by Commissioner Robeson Benn regarding the ethnic composition of the workforce of the Secretariat of the Guyana Elections Commission.
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 were persons of one ethnic descent. The Chairman disputed Commissioner Benn’s claim without offering any evidence to substantiate his position.
The Chairman prevented Commissioner Benn from defending his position and when challenged, adjourned the meeting for over half and hour.
Upon resumption, the Chairman announced that Commissioner Benn would not be recognized 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 have a constitutional mandate to execute and do not serve at the pleasure of the Chairman of the Commission. We hope that this is not an attempt to alter the delicate balance contemplated by the Constitution in the composition of the Commission.