Arrogance and disrespect has been displayed by GECOM

Dear Editor,
There should be a full-fledged enquiry into Justice (r’td) James Patterson’s irrational decision to cancel an August 7th meeting that was supposed to address a review of the report of the United Nations’ (UN) Needs Assessment Team. The rejection conflicts with any genuine intent to update the accountability mechanism of the GECOM and, certainly, the organisation’s image of acceptance locally and internationally.
A posture of total arrogance and disrespect has been displayed by GECOM Chairman James Patterson relative to the need to address the report of the UN Needs Assessment Mission. This is certainly disappointing and regressive; and is an enigma, since the likely outcomes of this negative poise will neither engender assurance of reliance in the organisation nor affirm credence of its policies and decisions. Rather, it conveys significant uncertainty about Chairman Patterson’s intent to remedy the problems, and this has become more pervasive with his increasingly negative signals.
The Chairman’s decision belies the rationality of scrutiny, and flies in the face of respected global recognition and partnership.
It also certainly undermines effective counter-check verification that would result from the establishment of the automated data system to treat electoral matters.
In February of this year, GECOM sent a letter to the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Guyana requesting electoral assistance. The purpose indicated was for the UN to provide the Information Technology expertise to aid the Commission in voter registration and the 2018 Local Government and 2020 General Elections.
It is rational for one to envisage that GECOM’s intent in engaging the UN was to purposefully improve the organisation’s regulatory and validation capacity. This is particularly relevant given that the questionable results of the 2015 National and Regional Elections were also tarnished by significant gaps between GECOM’s IT systems’ tally and the actual counts, among other glaring issues.
Naturally, the response and undertakings by the UN to GECOM’s request would have been initiated by a Needs Assessment Mission, in accordance with the standard UN procedures concerning electoral assistance. Significantly, an impressive high level Mission was led by the Electoral Assistance Division within the Department of Political Affairs at the UN Secretariat (EAD/DPA), and was joined by representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
I was reliably informed that the GECOM Chairman and all six Commissioners participated in the early May assessment led by UN Mission team. It is understood that they conducted a thorough investigation and research which targeted several sensitive issues and resulted in findings related thereto. These include: the results’ tabulation process; design of the necessary software to expedite the process; the biometric instrument use at polling stations; verifications of electoral listings; and approach to ensure security at the polling stations. Along with these substantive and sensitive issues, it is noted that the UNDP will be willing to give relevant assistance.
Following the assessment, the Chairman, Justice (ret’d) James Patterson, said the recent visit by the UN team was a success, and was highly confident that his request for an internationally recruited Information Technology specialist would be provided by the UN. So why the turn around? It is incomprehensible that, following the submission of the UN Report, GECOM Chairman James Patterson cancelled the scheduled meeting with the UN Team to review the report.
Worse is the fact that the necessary review meeting with the UN is now “indefinite”.
What is it about the report that the Chairman wants to hide? Why should there be delays in improving the GECOM verification mechanism?
The organisation desperately needs to set the record straight!
It cannot be denied that the Election Commission has been receiving most valuable aid from the UN, USA, UK, Canada, India, and the European Union. The rejection or indeterminate reluctance to consider the findings of the report is vulgar, offensive, and perhaps a waste of valuable and dedicated resources.
It is time to demand a ‘fit and proper’ performance from the GECOM Chairman. The entire nation deserves better!

Neil Kumar