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Who should chair the Elections Commission?
What the people say
By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
April 10, 2000



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While the political opposition will be required to submit a list of six names as possible candidates to serve as the full-time chairman of the Elections Commission we asked the men/women in the street to identify at least three if they could. Their views follow:

Jerome Khan - businessman: `First and foremost I think that Chief of Staff of the Guyana Defence Force Major General Joe Singh who will be retiring shortly should be eligible for such a position. He is a man of high integrity, thorough and professional. He has no political axe to grind and is respected by all Guyanese. Secondly, Rudy Collins, diplomat and former elections commission chairman. Also a person of high integrity, he has a track record as a previous chairman who will bring experience to the job. He understands the country and problems associated with it. The third would be Senior Counsel Ian Chang, a former acting director of public prosecutions who is a man of integrity and a patriotic Guyanese. He too has no axe to grind and displays a sense of balance and understanding of the needs and concerns of the common folk. While there are many outstanding Guyanese women who are as qualified as the three gentlemen named, I believe that in this critical time in our political history it would be unfair to ask them to be subjected to the kind of undignified criticism that goes with the office. This is in no way a reflection of the sexist position but a reflection of the reality of real politic in Guyana.'

Arnon Adams - public servant: `First, I would suggest former permanent secretary who served in the public works ministry some years ago, JSM Worrell. Worrell is a public administrator of long standing -- a man whose integrity I have never heard questioned in this country. I would also suggest former diplomat Cecil Pilgrim, a man of integrity, who served as Guyana's high commissioner in London; and last but not least former police officer and permanent secretary in the legal affairs ministry, Ronald Fraser. I think that while there are many high profile people who will be considered, there are many people who are not in the public's view but whose integrity are unquestionable and who could be considered.'

Dianne Fisher - private sector employee: `I would suggest Senior Counsel Miles Fitzpatrick as one who is capable of doing the job but I am not so sure government will want him. He has the country at heart and I do not think that he could be bought and sold as some others. He is also a good constitutional lawyer. The other person I could think of is chartered accountant Christopher Ram who is a principled man and a man of integrity. My choice would be limited because I really do not know many more people but these come to mind readily.'

Wasim Khan - manager: `Senior Counsel Doodnauth Singh should be returned as chairman of the Commission simply because I think that he did a good job in spite of the controversy which surrounded the last elections. It was only at the last part that things became messed up. I think that next time around with his experience the elections would be better run. This coming elections will be crucial to the country. You put one person and the opposition and government agree. Then come elections and the results are out and `Bam!', the elections are rigged and it is not fair and transparent and all kinds of allegations are made. You have to have someone neutral and Singh is neutral.'

Julian Johnson - teacher/photographer: `The three persons who come to mind are Fairbairn Liverpool, a former officer in the Guyana Defence Force and permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs; the second Eusi Kwayana, who in spite of his political background is fair and has managed to rise above partisan politics; and the third is Senior Counsel Donald Robinson who has a lot of legal experience, is impartial and a man of integrity.'

Khaleel - electrician: `I would recommend Dr Mohamed Shahabuddeen as chairman because he has had a distinguished career in the field of law and is versed in the way judicial systems operate. Indeed he is a man with experience, is an intellectual and a man of high integrity.'

Natasha George - banker: `Chartered accountant Christopher Ram comes to mind. I have a lot of respect for him and he is respected widely in the country as well. He has a good character. Another person I could think about is Justice Claudette La Bennett. She has a will of her own, high integrity and good standing in the community. There may be other persons but I cannot think of them right now.'

Gaumatie Singh - attorney-at-law: `I think that diplomat, Rudy Collins, who did a very good job in the 1992 elections, would be my choice. I do not think that we have another person who could take the job and handle it competently. So many other names come to mind but if you do investigate them you will find that they have political attachments. We need someone very neutral or who appears to be neutral.'

Ohene Koama - teacher: `I would suggest former University of Guyana lecturer Jesuit Priest Fr Malcolm Rodrigues who is a neutral and principled person. Other persons I would suggest are Elfrieda Bissember, the curator of the National Arts Gallery, Castellani House and Dr Dennis Canterbury who was attached to the Research and Development Department in the Faculty of Social Science, University of Guyana who is now residing in North America. Bissember and Dr Canterbury are persons of integrity.'

Rameshwar Ramsaroop - city councillor: `I would rule out Doodnauth Singh. My choice would be men of integrity such as Dr Mohamed Shahabuddeen, though he is overseas, but he has a brilliant legal mind; former diplomat who served at several of Guyana's overseas mission, Dr Cedric Grant; and former minister of the government and attorney-at-law Cammie Ramsaroop.

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