Guyana’s first female GECOM chair sworn in

─ Pres. Granger recommits to lending assistance for timely free, fair and credible elections

 DPI, Guyana, Monday, July 29, 2019

The first female chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) was on Monday morning officially sworn in by His Excellency, President David Granger.

Justice Claudette Singh SC, CCH received her instruments of office in the Rupununi Room at the Ministry of the Presidency. Witnessing this historic ceremony were senior ministers and government officials, Leader of the Opposition, Hon. Bharat Jagdeo, members of the opposition, and GECOM commissioners, among other guests.

Justice Claudette Singh SC, CCH takes the oath of office before His Excellency, President David Granger.

The swearing-in was described as “a good day for the Republic of Guyana” by the Head of State. In remarks, he asserted, out of the list of names submitted by the Leader of the Opposition, Justice Singh satisfied the criteria for the appointment.

“That is to say, the chairman of the elections commission shall be a person who holds or has held the office of a judge of a court having unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters in some part of the Commonwealth, or a Court of Appeal or any such court or qualified to be appointed as a judge,” President Granger explained.

He further emphasised that the elections commission is not a “plaything”.

“Its independence is a condition that will generate confidence and public trust in the elections system and for the efficient conduct of general elections.”

According to the Head of State, Guyana’s Constitution mandates that elections should be independently supervised.

“The commission shall exercise general direction and supervision over the registration of elections and administering of instruction of elections for all the members of the National Assembly.”

President Granger reiterated that the appointment of Justice Singh fulfils the mandate of the Constitution of Guyana and also satisfies the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) ruling. The Head of State further reiterated his commitment to providing GECOM with assistance to ensure timely free, fair and credible elections.

In an invited comment, Justice Singh told the media that her decision to accept the post was dependent on the mutual agreement of both the Head of State and Leader of the Opposition. She vowed to execute her duties fairly and to the best of her abilities as she said she understood the challenges of the position.

On July 26, 2019, it was announced that Justice Singh was selected as the new chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), succeeding Retired Justice James Patterson, who stepped down from the position in June.

Justice Singh was selected from the list of nominees presented to President Granger by Leader of the Opposition, during what was termed the ‘hammering out’ process, instructed by the CCJ during its ruling.

The swift appointment of Justice Singh was aimed at ensuring that GECOM could resume its normal functions and conduct General and Regional Elections in the shortest possible time.

The new GECOM Chair has over 40 years of experience in the legal field and is among five Guyanese women to have been appointed Senior Counsel.

She has served as the Deputy Solicitor General, as a Puisne Judge and a Justice of Appeal. During her tenure at the Chamber of the Attorney General, the legal luminary spearheaded the Modernisation of the Justice Reform Project.

Justice Singh was called to the Bar in London in 1973 and admitted to the Bar in Guyana in 1976.