Georgetown, Guyana – (July 29, 2019) President David Granger, this morning, administered the Oath of Office to Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, SC, CCH at the Ministry of the Presidency appointing her Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
The Head of State initiated a consensual process with the Leader of the Opposition to identify a Chairman of the Elections Commission in accordance with the provisions of Article 161 (2) of the Constitution, and its interpretation by the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).
The President received from the Leader of the Opposition a list of six names “not unacceptable” to him, on 26th July 2019 and he chose Justice Claudette Singh from that list.
“Today is a good day for the Republic of Guyana,” President Granger said as he reminded that Justice Singh was selected because she satisfies the criteria prescribed in the Constitution of Guyana for the appointment of a Chairman of the Elections Commission.
Article 161 (2) of the Constitution states that “…the Chairman of the Elections Commission shall be a person who holds or who has held the office as a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth or a court having jurisdiction in appeals from any such court or who is qualified to be appointed as any such judge…”
President Granger said that free, fair, credible and timely elections are essential elements of a democratic state.
“The Elections Commission is not a plaything. Its independence is a condition for engendering confidence and ensuring public trust in the electoral system and for the efficient execution of elections,” the President said.
Justice Singh’s appointment means that the Elections Commission can resume its work after a hiatus of a bit more than a month.
“It is now properly constituted and can continue to prepare for the conduct of free, fair, timely and credible elections. It fulfils the Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling, in relation to Article 161(2),” the President stated.
The Head of State, in wishing Justice Singh every success, said integrity, impartiality and independence are critical to the electoral process.
“Justice Singh is such a person,” President Granger said of the new GECOM Chair. Justice Singh who last served as Police Legal Advisor (PLA) was called to the Bar in London in 1973 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana in 1976.
She served as the Deputy Solicitor General and as a Puisne Judge and a Justice of Appeal. She led the way for the Modernisation of the Justice Reform Project during her tenure at the Attorney General’s Chambers.
Justice Singh has many years of legal experience as a jurist and as a practitioner of the law to her appointment. She is respected widely for her integrity, impartiality and independence.
“I thank her for accepting the appointment. I am confident that she will discharge her duties in accordance with her oath of office and in compliance with the Constitution and our election laws,” the President said as he also thanked the Leader of the Opposition for “swiftly coming to a successful conclusion of the process for the selection of a Chairman of the Elections Commission in accordance with the Constitution and the ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice”.
President Granger recommitted the State to providing every assistance to the Commission to enable it to conduct General and Regional Elections in the shortest time possible.
Meanwhile, Justice Singh said she endeavours “to have free, fair and transparent elections.” After her swearing-in ceremony the new GECOM Chair said will be meet all Commissioners as she believes in inclusivity.
“I do not believe in people walking out when there is disagreement. I believe in sitting down and hammering out whatever the problem is,” she stated while adding that she will execute her functions in accordance with the laws of Guyana.