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Private Sector Commission calls for charged GECOM officials to be removed before Local Govt Elections

Last Updated on Saturday, 19 December 2020, 17:19 by Denis Chabrol

The Private Sector Commission (PSC) on Saturday called for several top officials not to be part of the Guyana Elections Commission’s (GECOM) machinery before Local Government Elections (LGE) are held, and urged the GECOM Chairman Retired Justice Claudette Singh to break her silence about what is happening at that elections management agency.

“It is unthinkable and certainly unacceptable that GECOM should proceed to conduct Local Government Elections while these officers remain employed and involved in the conducting of these elections,” the PSC said.

The PSC called on Justice Singh to give an update concerning GECOM’s readiness to hold Local Government Elections soon or Guyana risks facing political problems at a time of renewed  prosperity. “The Private Sector Commission, therefore, wishes to urge upon the Chairman of the Elections Commission to speak out and speak plainly about the action being taken to put right all that has gone wrong in GECOM and to do it quickly,” the organisation said.

The PSC Chairman Nicholas Boyer did not immediately accept calls or respond to a question on why that umbrella business organisation thought its call for the removal of the charged officers reasonable given the fact that they have not been found guilty by a court of law. Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; Deputy Chief Elections Officer Roxanne Myers; Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan and Registration Officer Sheffern February have been charged with several offences related to the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections.

The PSC notes that although those officers have been charged, they remain on the job, but has not said definitively whether it wants the seven-member commission to fire or interdict them from duty. “Nevertheless, as far as we know, none of these officers have been dismissed from their employment with GECOM, nor have they been suspended from duty,” the PSC said.

Noting that GECOM has been silent about its preparedness for Local Government Elections, the PSC said sufficient time has passed since the declaration 0f the election results on August 2, 2020 for GECOM to state what’s going on at that body. The PSC sought to preempt the GECOM Chairman, saying that she could not be refusing to take action to “clean up” the Commission because the opposition A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has filed an  election petition. The business organisation said the Local Government Elections are likely to be held long before the petition is heard and finally determined.  “The election petition cannot be used as a means of delaying or postponing GECOM’s preparedness to hold an election,” the PSC said.

The PSC warned that it would be a big backward step if GECOM fails to prepare itself to hold the elections to the neighbourhood and town councils. It would be a hugely regressive step, therefore, if the failure of GECOM to properly prepare itself to hold Local Government Elections when they become due, would result in our country, once more, being made to suffer under the threat of further political instability,” the PSC said.

The PSC earlier this year observed the general and regional elections and the recount of the votes which saw the People’s Progressive Party having been declared the winner. APNU+AFC has filed two election petitions, citing widespread alleged electoral fraud including voter impersonation and inability to reconcile votes cast because of missing documents and other records.

APNU+AFC has previously labelled the PSC a PPP mouthpiece and the 2020 national budget was tailored to benefit the private sector.