In a statement, the elections management authority said it received reports that persons calling themselves “Community Support Officers” have been visiting homes in Mabaruma and Port Kaituma with copies of extracts of the Preliminary List of Electors to check, and advise residents, on their (residents’) registration status.
“We hereby note emphatically that no GECOM staff is engaged in any such activity in Region 1 or any other Region,” said GECOM in a statement.
GECOM said its investigations have also revealed that the persons have in their possession a copy of a letter purportedly written by the Regional Executive Officer of the Region authorizing them to engage in the activity of concern.
But the REO said he was unaware of such an activity and denied ever issuing such letters of authorization. “I am not aware of that. Community Support Officers is the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and they do not come under the Regional Administration and as such I cannot issue that letter,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. Fischer said it was the first time that he was hearing of persons in Region One on such a mission saying that they have received such a letter from him.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Nigel Dharamlall said Community Support Officers and staff of the ministry are, among things, responsible for assisting Amerindians acquire birth certificates so that they can register with GECOM. He, too, denied that CSOs were authorized to do house-to-house verification of the voters list. “CSOs have not been issued with documentation from my office or the Minister’s office stating that they have to verify the voters list on behalf of GECOM. At the same time, he said if CSOs are members of political parties that would be a matter for those organizations to address that.
The Elections Commission explained that all GECOM staff members are authorized to embark on mobile exercises to provide opportunities for eligible persons in far flung communities to conduct transactions relative to the ongoing Claims and Objections exercise. The commission pointed out that all such activities are adequately announced within the respective communities prior to the visits. “Further, we take this opportunity to make it abundantly clear that all of GECOM’s employees working in the field wear, and are identifiable by, certified identification badges at all times during working hours. They are accompanied by duly accredited and adequately identifiable Scrutineers representing the Parliamentary Political Parties,” said GECOM.