Last Updated on Monday, 3 April 2023, 16:17 by Denis Chabrol
The three opposition-aligned Election Commissioners are poised to oppose the appointment of Information Technology (IT) Manager Aneal Giddings as Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) because he removed a server from the Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Office during chaos surrounding the declaration of results there.
A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Elections Commissioner, Desmond Trotman said unless and inquiry is held by experts to ascertain whether the server was compromised, he would not approve Mr Giddings being appointed DCEO as he had opposed his contract renewal as IT Manager on the same grounds. “I’m reiterating my position that unless there is a vindication of you by some expert or experts, I will not approve of you being promoted,” he said.
Mr Trotman, who is confident that his colleague commissioners- Charles Corbin and Vincent Alexander- would take the same position said GECOM’s Voter Registration Manager Melanie Marshall, is most qualified for the position than Mr Giddings. He said Ms Marshall was “head and shoulders above everybody” and “the first two persons who we interviewed really didn’t come up to scratch and they didn’t have the experience.”
According to Mr Trotman, he was “very concerned” by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Elections Commissioner Clement Rohee questioning Ms Marshall about whether or not her promotions were linked to her qualifications. “I took the opportunity to rebut and said to the Commission that I’m angry at Rohee’s statement and I do believe they tried to besmirch the woman’s character,” he said.
With a politically divided GECOM, inevitably the decision would come down to a vote by the GECOM Chairman, Retired Justice Claudette Singh to go either way. Notably, she had seconded Mr Giddings in late February to the created post of Operations Manager until a DCEO was appointed, but under pressure from the opposition commissioners she relented and withdrew her appointment.
GECOM would Tuesday meet to consider the applicants who were interviewed by the seven-member Commission last week.
Governing People’s Progressive Party (PPP)-aligned Elections Commissioner Attorney-at-Law Sase Gunraj declined to comment on the matter, saying he was in and out of last Tuesday’s interview of the candidates.
Asked whether the server could have been compromised if Mr Giddings had left that device in the Returning Office, Elections Commissioner Trotman said there was sufficient security at that office then located at Ashmin’s Building, High and Hadfield Streets, Georgetown. “Giddings had no authority; none whatsoever, none whatsoever. It wasn’t part of his list of duties to remove that server…Security was put in place but he defied the Commission, he defied his functional superior, took it away and then apologised subsequently and he only apologised after Commissioner Benn instructed him to bring it back some time after; I don’t know how long,” Mr Trotman said.
Chaos had erupted there over the questionable tabulation of results, eventually leading to the declaration that was challenged and the deployment of riot squad police to clear the building.
Mr Trotman on Monday released what appeared to be a text conversation of someone apologising to the DCEO for removing the server but justifying that decision. “Good morning DCEO. I apologise for not adhering to your instructions yesterday. I didn’t mean to be insubordinate at all but made a judgement to protect the server because I know if anything were to happen to it, in order to restore the operations it woud have been very difficult,” the message states.