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Short-listed Guyanese applicants front-runners for Chief Elections Officer post

The two Guyanese candidates for the post of Chief Elections Officer are said to be the front-runners for the top administrative post at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), according to well-placed sources.

They are Acting CEO Calvin Benn and Assistant CEO Keith Lowenfield- wo sources say have chalked up signficant local electoral experience over the past 10 years.

Multiple sources told Demerara Waves Online News (www.demwaves.com) that the two foreigners- Jamican Danville Walker of that country’s Electoral Offce (the equivalent of GECOM) and the other a United States-based Guyanese Savitri Singh- are unlikely to go down well with either side of the political divide on the seven-member Commission.

The Guyana-born Singh has worked at several international organisations and with the United States government but she does not have any elections management experience. Walker, who was up to recently an active Jamaican politician, was instrumental in establishing the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ). He has also been a member of a number of regional and international election observer missions.

The disclosure that the two internal candidates are among those shortlisted came less than one week after Benn was grilled about the use of an elections advance of GUY$500,000.  

Benn told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that most of the money, bar GUY$65,000 was destroyed by fire after the 2006 General and Regional Election.

The two overseas candidates are to be interviewed via Skype by the full commission at a date to be decided on.

The post became vacant last year after Gocool Boodoo’s contract expired and the commission by majority decided not to extend it pending the signing of a new one. Instead, the commission agreed to advertise the vacancy locally and overseas.

Boodoo had been at the centre of controversies surrounding the final results in 2006 that gave Samuel Hinds a geographical seat in Linden and in 2011 that almost awarded a one-seat majority to the Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPPC).

After Commissioner Vincent Alexander pointed out to Boodoo that he had used the wrong formula, a recount was done and the PPPC was handed a one-seat minority in the 65-seat House.