…decision likely to come down to vote by Commissioners
The interviews of the two candidates shortlisted for the position of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Chief Elections Officer (CEO) have been completed and according to a reliable source, the decision is likely to come down to a vote.
On Monday, former GECOM Deputy CEO Vishnu Persaud and former Jamaican electoral official Leslie Harrow were interviewed for the position of GECOM Chief Election Officer. The interviews were conducted before the seven-member Commission, during which the candidates were asked questions about their academic qualifications and experience and tested on their electoral knowledge.
The seven-member Commission, composed of Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shadick and Manoj Narayan on the Government side and Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman on the Opposition side and Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh acting as the tie breaker if necessary.
Based on their responses, the candidates were scored by each Commissioner. These score sheets will now have to be submitted by each Commissioner to GECOM Chair, Retired Justice Claudette Singh.
According to the source, the decision on the next CEO is likely to come down to a vote. All that is left now, the source further explained, is for Harrow and Persaud to submit their academic certificates to GECOM.
“I think it will come down to a vote. I think so from how this is shaping but that’s only my thoughts. The Chairman doesn’t want the decision to take long,” the source further explained to this publication.
Reports are that in the past, appointees to the CEO or DCEO post were hired based on an interview with the Commission, during which they would be evaluated and ranked based on a score sheet. The candidate with the highest score would be appointed.
Meanwhile, it is understood that GECOM will have a further meeting today at 13:00h, where the appointment of a Deputy Chief Elections Officer for GECOM is likely to also be addressed.
Persaud, who was employed as GECOM’s DCEO from 2014 to 2017, was overlooked for appointment when he sought to return to the position in 2018. In fact, his non-appointment sparked controversy and even an investigation by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), which had concluded six months after that he was overlooked and was more qualified than the person who was chosen over him for the position, Roxanne Myers.
On the other hand, news reports in Jamaica revealed that Leslie Harrow was up until May employed as Head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica. He previously served in several junior and senior positions at the Electoral Commission of Jamaica over his 18-year tenure there.
When GECOM had put out the advertisements to fill these positions in October, over a dozen persons – both local and foreign – had applied for the post of CEO. With the shortlisting of Persaud and Harrow, GECOM Information Technology Manager Aneal Giddings; GECOM Assistant Registration Officer and former ERC Commissioner Deodat Persaud, Dr Kurt Clarke from Texas, and Eugene Godfrey Petty from St Kitts were removed from the race for the new GECOM CEO.
Meanwhile, the electoral body is also looking to fill several other key senior positions within the Elections Secretariat including Assistant Chief Elections Officer, Chief Accountant, Legal Officer, Logistics Officer, and Civic and Voter Education Manager.
These posts are being filled following the removal of CEO Keith Lowenfield; his Deputy, Roxanne Myers, and Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo. They were on August 12 dismissed from their respective posts at the Elections Commission.
The embattled trio is currently before the courts facing a number of electoral fraud charges for their alleged attempts to sway the results of the March 2020 General and Regional Elections in favour of the then ruling A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government. (G3)