Absence of key GECOM officials ‘crippling’ work of agency – Gunraj By Editor On Sep 9, 2021

Since the motions that led to the removal of three senior functionaries of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) who are accused of electoral fraud, the agency has been working to fill the vacancies so that the work of the Secretariat can go on.

However, without a Chief Elections Officer (CEO), a Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), and a Returning Officer (RO) for Region Four, the work of GECOM is being crippled, according to the governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Commissioner Sase Gunraj.

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On Thursday, Gunraj, during an interview with theGuyana News Agency, explained that the process of hiring suitable candidates to fill the integral positions involves a public advertisement along with a stringent vetting process before anyone can be considered.

“These officers have to be appointed by the [GECOM] Commission and as a consequence, the Commission has a hands-on approach to these hirings,” Gunraj said.

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At this juncture, Gunraj explained that the Commission is currently sorting out the job description for the new CEO due to the fact that the post has not been advertised in years.

On the other hand, an advertisement has been issued for a DCEO.  Gunraj noted that the CEO’s position is critical and is the one that needs to be filled immediately as the Secretariat needs the CEO to execute important tasks.

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Gunraj noted that GECOM was recently forced to suspend the distribution of Identification Cards as the CEO’s signature is needed on them.

“So, these vacancies are crippling the work of the organisation in some regards and there are quite a few, quite a few processes that understandably cannot go on, because of the absence of those officeholders,” Gunraj continued.

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And while the Commission is in a rush to get the vacancies filled, Gunraj is of the strong view that the candidates should be of high integrity to prevent a repeat of the 2020 elections fiasco.

“Obviously, given our most recent experience, we want to ensure that those posts are filled by persons of integrity and hopefully, impeccable integrity because of the entire imbroglio that was the last elections.

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“For me, my core requirement will be for us to find persons who can carry out the functions in an impartial manner and in keeping with their constitutional and statutory responsibilities and obligations.”

The previous posts were filled by Keith Lowenfield, who served as the CEO, his Deputy Roxanne Myers, and the Region Four RO, Clairmont Mingo.

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Their contracts were terminated in August this year after no-confidence motions were filed regarding their handling of the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

Lowenfield is currently before the court facing three counts of misconduct in public office and three counts of forgery; Myers is facing two counts of misconduct in public office.

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Mingo is currently charged with four counts of misconduct in public office.

They are accused of inflating the results of Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting district – to give the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition a majority win at the March 2, 2020, polls when in fact, the PPP/C had won by 15,000 more votes.

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