“I was afraid for my life” – GECOM Chair tells COI why she locked herself in a room amid chaos at Ashmin’s Building

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
GECOM Chair Claudette Singh at the CoI

Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission, Ret’d Justice Claudette Singh, today took the stand before the ongoing Commission of Inquiry during which she recalled feeling overwhelmed by events that played out in the days following the elections and had locked herself in a room at the Ashmin’s Building out of fear for her life.

The events in question had unfolded on March 5, 2020. At the time, there were rumors that the GECOM Chair was being held hostage in a room.

“I felt a bit dizzy. I wasn’t feeling well, there were so many things on my mind, I was actually shaking. Because then you see with the declaration and then you had…this thing happened…there was so many events. There was an injunction filed by Mr. Nandlall, then against the declaration and there were so many things on my mind and I want to know what to do, the next step so I just couldn’t be bothered with anybody. I went up there just to have a quiet moment,” she explained.

“I heard sounds from outside and the sounds outside…I heard a lot of sounds. But then, after I heard people say “we want the chairman” and then I heard footsteps and like people were rushing into the building and then I heard they say they’ll break the door, and I panicked. I became very much afraid and… I said look and I dialed Ms. Anma Ali and I called her because I was afraid for my life, I thought people were coming to harm me.”

The GECOM Chair was asked if she was aware that the people on the outside thought she was being held captive, to which she responded in the negative.

“I wasn’t so aware but then afterwards I realized that, when I saw who were the persons who tried to… and I saw inspector Narine, and they would not harm me…because the first thing they asked me, “Are you alright?” and I said yes… and they looked like they had some relie.f”

The GECOM Chair went onto explain that while she was in the room having a quiet time to herself, there were several calls coming through her cellphone but she did not take them.

“I was receiving a lot of calls but I couldn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t feel up to it to talk to anyone.”

The GECOM Chair was then asked by one of the Commissioners, “This matter attracted severe global attention. It was quite a commotion and [that] has caused you stress, but to say you couldn’t be bothered seems odd because you’re the Chair and you’re in the middle of a very serious situation. I simply want to know… at that point did you call the other Commissioners and say, look, “I’m feeling stressed let’s meet together and weather the storm, I am not taking this on, on my own”. Did that occur to you or did you just prefer to shut yourself away?”

“No, at that time the Commissioners might have left, this was later in the afternoon… people were leaving… When I said I couldn’t be bothered…I wasn’t speaking about the commission work or anything. This is personal, and when I said I couldn’t be bothered it’s just that, I don’t know, I just wanted that quiet moment and I heard all this noise. And I was afraid for my life, because when I heard people running up the stairs… I thought they were going to harm me,” she responded.