Political parties must meet with full Commission
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GECOM Chair, Justice (Ret'd) Claudette Singh
GECOM Chair, Justice (Ret'd) Claudette Singh

–GECOM Chair says, debunks claims of refusal to meet with PNCR as ‘grossly misleading’

ANY political party desirous of expressing its views to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) must do so before the entire Commission, which includes the Chairperson, Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, and the six commissioners appointed by the major political parties.
“Proposals made by stakeholders are always welcomed, and being heard by the full Commission allows for a more meaningful engagement at that level,” Justice Singh said in response to what she’s described as “grossly misleading” allegations by the Opposition-appointed commissioners about her refusing to meet with officials of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Tuesday.

General-Secretary of the PNCR, Amna Ally had written to Justice Singh on January 7, 2021 requesting to engage her “singularly” to proffer the party’s proposals on “matters at hand” before participating in any meeting of the entire commission.
In response to Ally’s letter, Justice Singh, on January 7, 2021, extended an invitation for the PNCR team to meet with the Commission at 14:00h on January 12, 2021.
“In a separate communication on the same day, I also requested that any issues likely to be raised are matters to be addressed by the Commission, and recommended that proposals should be forwarded, in writing, so that they may be dispatched to the commissioners for their perusal and consideration prior to the meeting,” the GECOM Chair said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ally, again wrote the GECOM chairperson on January 11, 2021, reiterating her request to meet “singularly” to discuss matters in relation to registration [voter registration].
“It is public knowledge that you have facilitated meetings with other stakeholders, both foreign and domestic, without major formalities,” the PNCR General-Secretary said, reiterating that a meeting with the full Commission could be held subsequent to a meeting with the PNCR.
Justice Singh, however, insisted that the PNCR team meet with the full Commission, as is customary when meeting with political parties.
“I explained that this methodology has been quite useful in ensuring all commissioners collectively benefit from the issues to be addressed for later deliberation and decision,” Justice Singh said.

Opposition-appointed Commissioners, Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman, registered their disappointment in the GECOM Chair’s decision by exiting the Commission’s statutory meeting on Tuesday. Subsequent to their exit from the meeting, the commissioners, in a press statement, said: “The APNU-AFC is a major stakeholder, and as such we consider it discourteous, at the least, for her not to have entertained their presence. The current environment in the Commission is not conductive for a briefing of the sort sought.
“Presently, GECOM is on the verge of major decision-making with regards to voter registration, a matter that was litigated, and requires serious and in-depth consideration before a decision is made.

In that regard, at least a briefing of any major stakeholder should be useful, if not essential.” It is for this reason that those commissioners left the meeting, and ‘advised’ Justice Singh to review her decision, which, in their view, was unprecedented. Justice Singh contended, however, that the claim made by Commissioners Alexander, Corbin and Trotman that she refused to meet because such a meeting is unprecedented is “grossly misleading” at the very least.  “As Chairperson of GECOM, I have never engaged with any political party on my own. In any event, as Chairperson, I reiterate that it is appropriate to engage political parties at the level of the Commission, so that their concerns may be discussed, and, where necessary, action taken,” Justice Singh affirmed.

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