Claudette Singh is new GECOM Chair

first_img…diplomatic community lauds movePresident David GrangerAfter weeks of consultation, Retired Justice Claudette Singh has been named the new Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). She was selected by President David Granger from a list of six nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo on Friday.Justice Singh, a former Justice of Appeal, is the first female to be appointed to the post at the helm of GECOM. She was appointed a Senior Counsel back in January 2017 and is currently the Guyana Police Force (GPF) legal advisor. She is expected to be officially appointed to the post early in the new week.Justice Singh’s selection as Chair of the Elections Commission comes after weeks of consultations between the President and the Opposition Leader, as well as their representatives.In June, the Caribbean Court of Justice ruled that former GECOM Chair Retired Justice James Patterson’s unilateral appointment back in 2017 by President Granger was flawed and unconstitutional. Justice Patterson stepped down from the post, paving the way for a new appointment.However, the regional Court had recommended that the President and the Opposition Leader hammer out the nominees in order for there to be consensus in the new appointment. This triggered a series of engagements between the two sides.Prior to Friday’s selection, President Granger had already found four of the Opposition’s candidates “not unacceptable”. The Head of State had even went ahead and submitted two names— Attorney Kesaundra Alves and Justice Claudette La Bennet – to be considered, but they did not find favour with the Opposition Leader.As such, with two more spots available, the Opposition had presented four more new candidates last week and was supposed to get a feedback at Friday’s meeting.However, at a press briefing later that day, Jagdeo explained prior to the meeting, he had met with Justice Singh and she agreed to have her name placed on the list. The retired Judge was initially considered by the Opposition for the post back in 2017, but had indicated her unavailability at the time.Nevertheless, the Opposition Leader explained that during Friday’s meeting, the President accepted another one of the Opposition’s nominees from the four new names. They then discussed Justice Singh, whom received consensus from both sides. This meant there was a list of six nominees – all not unacceptable to the President.“I emerged from that meeting and the President wrote me, triggering the formal process now, inviting me to submit the six names, which I did shortly thereafter. He has since written me and made public that he has selected Justice Claudette Singh to be appointed the Chairperson of GECOM from the list of six names that I submitted to him,” the Opposition Leader noted.The other nominees in Jagdeo’s final list of six were: Retired Judge Justice BS Roy; Attorney-at-Law Kashir Khan; Conflict Resolution Specialist Lawrence Lachmansingh; Attorney-at-Law Ronald Burch-Smith, and Retired Judge Justice William Ramlall.Nevertheless, the Opposition Leader said he is happy not only with the selection of Justice Singh, but with the fact that they were finally able to resolve the issue of the appointment of a new GECOM Chair.“I am sure that people will be happy that finally we have resolved the issue for the new Chairperson for GECOM… We’re very, very happy with this development. The process was consensual; the names on the list enjoy my confidence and the confidence of the President. They were found not unacceptable to him and, therefore, he chose from a list of six names that I submitted to him. So there was no question of a unilateral appointment being done here and that is a great development for Guyana”.Fair electionsAccording to Jagdeo, the newly-selected GECOM Chair, who is expected to be sworn-in on Monday, enjoys the confidence of both sides.“We believe that she will deliver fair elections and that’s all that the PPP (People’s Progressive Party) wants from any Chairperson of GECOM – fair and timely elections. We are very, very pleased with the development here today. This brings us closer, one stage closer to election and an election date, which now must be announced with urgency given the ruling of the CCJ, and the imperative of our Constitution,” the Opposition Leader posited.AgreementThe Opposition Leader added that before he sent his list of nominees to Granger, he met with Singh, who agreed to have her name submitted to the President.This is not the first time that Singh was considered as a nominee for the post of GECOM Chairperson by the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic (PPP/C).Notably, on May 2, 2017, the Opposition Leader in speaking about consultations to arrive at a list of names – prior to the move by Granger to unilaterally appoint now resigned GECOM Chairman James Patterson – talked about engaging Singh as a possible nominee during consultations.He had said then, “In particular, I wish to thank the Hon Madam Justice Desiree Bernard, Madam Justice Claudette Singh (retired) SC, Mr Ralph Ramcharan SC, Timothy Jonas and Ronald Burch-Smith, Attorneys-at-law, and others with whom I consulted but who indicated that their current commitments do not permit them to serve in the office of Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission, at this point of time”.Further, the Opposition Leader thanked all the persons involved, from both the Parliamentary Opposition and Government sides, in the negotiations to arrive at a final selection of a GECOM Chairperson. He noted too that he will be writing to the persons who agreed to have their names submitted as nominees for the post of GECOM Chairperson to personally thank them for their willingness to serve Guyana.ConsensusMeanwhile, in a statement from the Ministry of the Presidency earlier on Friday, it was noted that Justice Singh satisfies the criteria for the appointment as GECOM Chair and also satisfies the ruling of the CCJ for a consensual appointment.According to the missive, President Granger appointed the retired Judge in an effort to bring the process to a speedy and favourable conclusion.“This was aimed at ensuring that the Elections Commission could resume its normal functions with the aim of conducting General and Regional Elections in the shortest possible time,” the Government missive stated.Diplomatic communityOn the other hand, this consensus moved by the two political leaders was lauded by the western diplomats here in Guyana.The US Embassy posted on its Facebook page, “We commend Guyana’s leadership for agreement on an Elections Commission Chairperson, in compliance with the Caribbean Court of Justice ruling. We encourage continued collaboration toward free and fair elections”.Meanwhile, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn said in a tweet on Friday, “I welcome this extremely positive development. I look forward to meeting the new GECOM Chair. All relevant actors are to be congratulated on this agreement”.Adding to the commentary, Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana Lilian Chatterjee tweeted that the selection of a new GECOM Head is, “Progress for the citizens of Guyana”.The CCJ ruled on June 18, 2019, that the December 21, 2018, passage of the No-Confidence Motion was valid, triggering General and Regional Elections within three months.Opposition Leader, Bharrat JagdeoJagdeo’s submission of his list of six nominees to President Granger(Ret’d) Justice Claudette SinghPresident Granger response to the Opposition Leader, indicating that he has selected Justice Claudette Singh as the new GECOM Chairlast_img read more