The People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-nominated side on the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has signalled its intention to approach the international community after the highest scored candidate was rejected for the post of Deputy Chief Elections Officer.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the Commissioners accused GECOM Chairman Retired Justice James Patterson of using his deciding vote to block the appointment of former Deputy CEO Vishnu Persaud, in favour of someone who was scored less by interviewers.
Persaud had been made to apply for the position, the same as other candidates.
According to Commissioner Bibi Shaddick, Persaud emerged from the interviews with a score of 76 while the second ranked candidate, a Roxanne Prince-Myers, scored 72.
“Vishnu Persaud, who had served as the DCEO for at least three years, was told that he had to reapply. The interviews were held … at the end of the interviews, people were scored, …on that average, in every case, except the DCEO (’s case), the top ranking candidate was selected. The DCEO position ranked Vishnu Persaud, an Indo-Guyanese as top rank…the second was Roxanne Myers.”
“The three Commissioners on our side decided on principles (thus choosing the top ranker, however) the three Commissioners on the other side (had a change of heart and chose the second ranking candidate). The Chairman, as a casting vote, (then)… announced that the position will be offered to Ms Roxanne Meyers … for their master’s degrees, one did studies in gender relations, one did studies in elections,” Shadick related.
Questioning whether the stage was being set for a particular reason, Shadick was adamant that action besides writing to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) would be taken. She added that the matter would be brought to the attention of the international community.
According to Commissioner Robeson Benn, the matter went beyond racial discrimination and struck at the very heart of merit-based appointments. It was emphasised by the Commissioners that Persaud had previously served in the position.
In addition, he had never been cited in wrongdoing, and moreover reapplied and emerged as the top-ranked candidate from a bipartisan interview process that involved Commissioners from both sides. It was pointed out that for other posts, the top-ranked candidates were appointed without hiccups.
“Persaud emerged as the best ranked candidate … On our side, we thought that these objections were scurrilous…, could only be described at this point in time as not being fair,” the Commissioner stressed.
“We have grave concerns where a Guyanese, who is imminently qualified for the position… all his appraisals were excellent, that in the decision of the Chairman, he should not have been chosen as the DCEO…This is a matter of fairness, which we believe we have to take action [on] and making approaches to Ethnic Relations Commission.”
Meanwhile, a perusal of Prince-Myers’ Facebook account showed a number of anti-PPP posts.
In one of her posts, she stated, “This forensic audit of #GPL points to another mess the Coalition inherited from the #PPP. Hopefully, it could be salvaged without further inconvenience to citizens. Time to call these public officials to account.”
The Commissioners made it clear in their release that retired Justice Patterson “continues to act in a manner that does not inspire confidence, particularly given that his decisions are not informed, rational or fair”.