DCEO’s lack of knowledge on elections matters

first_imgDear Editor,Here I am after this week’s statutory meeting of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) giving you my usual update. The meeting was held on Wednesday since Tuesday was a national holiday again.It seems as if my updates are really negatively affecting the Chairman, as he was moved to assert that those of us on “our side” of the table did not deserve any common courtesy from him, since every week one of “our” Commissioners “spills the very guts” of GECOM’s meetings in the press!! Even Commissioner Alexander was moved to point out that the Commissioner in question (me) had at least had the “common courtesy” to inform the meeting of her intention to issue statements to the press after every meeting!This outburst by the Chairman happened after Commissioner Sase Gunraj had accused the Chairman of not having the common courtesy of informing the meeting last Thursday that he had called a press conference for the next day, even during the long discussion about GECOM’s interaction with the press and the Chairman had heard suggestions that targeted press releases would better serve our purpose rather than a press conference where the message can get lost in answers to questions from reporters which detracted from the main reason for the interaction.The Chairman was in rare form, asserting his right to call any press conference without informing any Commissioner, at which Commissioner Robeson Benn was moved to point out that the Chairman then, could not claim to be speaking on behalf of the Commission, since he had not even informed, much less discussed with Commissioners the fact of the press engagement, never mind the reason for it. Good theatre it was today!The matter of the Mabaruma Local Government Elections results again came up. I told the meeting that I had been informed that two of GECOM’s officials, a Mr Allen and a Mr Clarke, had travelled to Mabaruma to investigate the issue of proxies about which we spoke last week, and that the two officers had spent much of their time interacting with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) activists and supporters in a private meeting at the Town Hall and that they were also transported by an APNU candidate to Aruka Mouth and Smith Creek. My point was that GECOM’s officials should have acted in a manner precluding any perception of bias, especially since the investigation was being done at the instance of complaints made by APNU.Later in the meeting, the DCEO in the absence of the CEO – who did not attend Wednesday’s meeting – reported orally about the investigation by Clarke and Allen, stating that it had found that procedures for the approval of proxies had been breached and that the only answer the Returning Officer (RO), who approves all proxy applications, could give is that he was trying to help. My own view on this was that the RO should then face sanctions, but to my consternation, the DCEO then asked that the Commission consider the question of whether the results of the Mabaruma elections should be published.This, to my mind, was such a preposterous question from the DCEO! The election had been held and the final results had been declared by the Returning Officer and now here is the DCEO suggesting that the results of an investigation should be used to change or amend before publication, the declared final results!I am amazed that the DCEO needed to be told by me, that when the RO declared the results he was functus officio and that results of an election can only be challenged in a court of law by way of an elections petition!I am now wondering if the DCEO genuinely did not know this, because she had no previous experience running any election, or if she was advancing a particular interest. Food for thought!Sincerely,Bibi Safora ShadickCommissioner –GECOMlast_img read more