Photo : Major Joe Singh
The large majority of Guyanese Americans I communicated with on the ground (in the New York area) and on the phone (around the country as well as speaking with some Guyanese in Canada) opposes (condemns) President Granger’s decision to unilaterally appoint the Chairman of GECOM.
The appointment was expected to take on partisan line given the racial division of the country and the racist manner in which it had been governed since the PNC led coalition was installed in office in May 2015. Guyanese Americans and Canadians express outrage at the President 's unilateral action to choose the GECOM Chair without any opposition input as required by law. They feel the President should have chosen someone from the final list of nominees provided by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo since all of them are rendered to be fit and proper and as meeting the qualifications for the position as opined by the court. But, as in Guyana, Guyanese have shown a division by race and party affiliation in their views on the issue. PNC supporters back Granger and their party while PPP and AFC supporters back Jagdeo and the PPP on this matter that should not have involved any controversy. Almost everyone said the President's action will further divide the ethnically fragile nation. PPP supporters fear the worse that the PNC appointee will rig the next election as happened between 1964 and 1992.
Almost every Guyanese had expected that the President would have chosen Ret’d Major General Joe Singh as GECOM Chair since he previously served in that position with unanimous support from all the parties. He is highly respected in the diaspora. Some even say he would have been an ideal Presidential candidate for any political or civic minded party. Guyanese Americans are shocked, disappointed and outraged that the President and his coalition government have found Joe Singh not fit and proper for the GECOM Chair position especially that he previously did an outstanding job and was praised by observer missions for his professionalism, integrity and neutrality.
Almost every Indo-Guyanese (including those who support AFC and PNC) I interacted with said the President violated the constitution by not choosing someone from the list of nominees supplied by Jagdeo. Yes, AFCites in the US are not supportive of Granger's action and the party leadership position endorsing Granger's decision on the issue. On the other hand, most Afro-Guyanese are supportive of Granger’s unilateral appointment of PNCite and advisor to the government James Patterson as GECOM Chair. However, some Afro-Guyanese say the President should have selected someone from the list of nominees submitted by Opposition Leader Jagdeo to help foster unity and harmony in the nation. And almost everyone among the PNCites (supportive of a nominee from the Jagdeo list) says Joe Singh was the ideal choice. But shockingly, many Afros (especially those who support Granger’s unilateral selection of Patterson) oppose the appointment of Joe Singh as Chair on racial grounds. They say an African, instead of an Indian, must serve in the position with some saying that the African based PNC party must select one among its own for such a sensitive position that will be responsible for overseeing elections to select the next government. Afro Guyanese supported the PNC even during the dictatorship and period of mass starvation in order to keep out the PPP.
Guyanese Americans and Canadians praise Joe Singh for tendering his resignation from all government positions in light of the government rendering him as not being fit and proper for GECOM Chair. They describe him as a man of principles and honesty. Accountant and lawyer Chris Ram also came in for praise for following suit by resigning from all government appointments since the government had also rendered him as not being fit and proper for the GECOM position in spite of his support for the Granger led coalition.
Indo Guyanese say the appointment of the GECOM Chair was racially tinged and does not augur well for race relations in the country. They are suspicious of the manner in which the President made the appointment as well as the appointee saying the GECOM appointment was made to facilitate cooking of the next election.