…as PPP reiterates lack of confidence in employment practicesBased on recent reports regarding the ethnic composition of staff within the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) by members of the Opposition, President David Granger on Wednesday asserted that his Government has nothing to do with the employment process.The President pulled himself and his Government completely out of the current controversy surrounding the alleged discrimination in the hiring practices at GECOM.Speaking at the sidelines of an accreditation ceremony at State House, the President said GECOM is independent and has never received any direction from the Executive.“GECOM is autonomous and the Executive branch of the Government has nothing to do with how it is run… So I am not a party to this process for the selection of persons for GECOM and no member of my Government is party to that process,” he told media operatives on Wednesday.The President also maintained his belief that the persons being employed at GECOM are the best to do the respective jobs, but added that, “I expect they (GECOM) will be following normal practice and they will get fit and proper persons who are qualified… I am not aware of the procedures, but I expect the procedures would be above board and they would want to get the best person to do the job.”Walk outOn Tuesday, People’s Progressive Party (PPP) GECOM Commissioners Sase Gunraj, Robeson Benn, and Bibi Shaddick walked out of a meeting overPPP GECOM Commissioner Robeson Benncomplaints of Chairman James Patterson using his post to muzzle them. These Commissioners had indicated that complaints would be filed with the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) over biases in employment practices at the GECOM secretariat.They said the incident stemmed from GECOM Chairman, Justice James Patterson raising the issue of a public statement made by Commissioner Robeson Benn regarding the ethnic composition of the workforce of the Secretariat of the Commission.Benn pointed out that the perception was that the vast majority of the staff of the Commission were persons of one ethnic descent. However, the Chairman disputed the Commissioner’s claim without offering any evidence to substantiate his position.The PPP Commissioners claimed that the Chairman prevented Benn from further defending his position and when challenged, adjourned the meeting for over half an hour.Their allegations were followed by an earlier statement made by executive member of the PPP, Dr Roger Luncheon who made allegations against the GECOM, regarding the same issue. He said that the issue was brought to hisGECOM Chairman, Justice James Pattersonattention that the People’s National Congress (PNC) Commissioners at GECOM are allegedly engaged in a process to eliminate candidates for advertised positions at the GECOM Secretariat.In addition to that, he said it would seem that these Commissioners were aiming at such an objective by resorting to “giving low to zero scores to candidates of Indian origin who are shortlisted during the interview process while providing high to 100 per cent scores to their preferred candidates”.Further, the former Head of the Presidential Secretariat also alleged that the Commissioners were finding extraneous reasons for eliminating top candidates of Indian origin from appointment to positions at the GECOM Secretariat. He said if these disclosures are confirmed, it would reveal that the practice continued of excluding some ethnicities from GECOM’s Secretariat.Meanwhile, following Tuesday’s incident, PNC-nominated Commissioner Vincent Alexander told the media that the disruption arose from the “unsubstantiated” claim of ethnic imbalance of GECOM staff.He also claimed that GECOM does not keep information based on ethnicity and questioned on what basis can persons account for ethnicity.But the PPP in a statement said Wednesday that it finds Alexander’s comments confusing, especially given that media reports have defined, in detail, the ethnic composition of staffers hired by the Commission.PNC GECOM Commissioner Vincent AlexanderThose reports indicate that Afro-Guyanese account for 46 per cent of the staff at GECOM, while Indo-Guyanese is 21 per cent, mixed 20 per cent, Amerindians 12 per cent and others one per cent.“Did PNC’s Alexander lie? Or is the GECOM Chairman being dishonest? Or were the numbers reported…false? If, as Mr. Alexander said ‘no information based on ethnicity’ is kept by GECOM, how were these numbers generated?” the party questioned.Further to that, the PPP said that these types of actions, and contradictions that lead to a lack of confidence in the hiring practices of GECOM. According to them, such a state of affairs makes the representations proffered by the PPP-nominated GECOM Commissioners necessary.