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High Court dumps Gocool Boodoo’s case against GECOM

Gocool Boodoo

Chief Justice Ian Chang on Wednesday dismissed his own order to block the Guyana Elections Commission from deciding not to renew Gocool Boodoo’s contract as Chief Elections Officer.

Chang told the High Court sitting that Boodoo’s court action against each of the six commissioners and the Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally could not be entertained because the commission is a collective body.

“The Commission is a composite body. They don’t operate individually. They make decisions as a corporate body,” said the Chief Justice, adding that he had taken a second look at the court papers since issuing the Order Nisi on July 2.

Chang stressed that he did not want to hear what each commissioner had to say but what the commission as a collective body has said. The Chief Justice had issued an order that had temporarily blocked the Commission from deciding not to renew Boodoo’s contract until the commissioners’ lawyers could have shown cause why the order should not have been made final.

Attorney-at-Law, Sase Gunraj, who is representing Boodoo, later told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that he and his colleague Mursalene  Bacchus would have to decide how to proceed.

“We will now take a decision as to whether we will accept that or what other steps we will take,” said Gunraj.

If Boodoo takes no further legal steps, the seven-member commission could meet as early as next Tuesday to consider three legal opinions that have been obtained by the Chairman of GECOM Chairman.

Those opinions essentially state that Boodoo has no right or expectation to have his contract renewed. More so, he had not re-applied for the renewal within the 90-day period as stipulated in his last contract which expired on April 30.

The opposition-nominated commissioners and their political parties are adamant that Boodoo’s contract should not be renewed. The parties have argued that Boodoo has twice allegedly calculated election results incorrectly in favour of the governing Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC). In the case of the November 2011 results, Commissioner Vincent Alexander had identified the miscalculation that, if delivered, would have given the PPPC a one-seat majority in the 65-member House.

For his part, Boodoo has argued that although there was a period within which he should have given notice of his intention to renew his contract, that has never been strictly adhered to and his contract has been renewed during his 13 years at GECOM.

He has also contended that a decision not to automatically renew the contract would amount to an act in bad faith and would undermine his constitutional right to work in Guyana.