Commissioners shoot down move to have Gecom PRO act as deputy chief election officer

An attempt to appoint Guyana Elections Commission (Gecom) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Vishnu Persaud to act in the position of Deputy Chief Elections Officer was stymied after three commissioners objected to the proposal.

Stabroek News understands that at the last meeting of Gecom commissioners on Tuesday, a proposal was floated by a senior member of Gecom to appoint Persaud to act in the post. Deputy CEO Calvin Benn is on leave and is not expected to return to the post as he has informed Gecom that he does not want his contract renewed. However, after the proposal was floated, the three opposition commissioners reportedly immediately objected to it and the meeting moved on to other business.

Gecom recently appointed Keith Lowenfield as Chief Election Officer and National Registration Officer as it makes preparations for possible elections. Lowenfield had previously been functioning as acting Deputy CEO while Benn was acting CEO.

Civil society organisations and western missions have urged that all political parties work together for the staging of local government elections by August 1 this year.

These elections have not been held since 1994 and have been repeatedly deferred. New local government bills have been passed and Parliament recently approved a bill to pave the way for elections by August 1, 2014. The bill was not supported by the government.

There have been murmurings from the ruling PPP/C that it is of the view that Gecom might not be adequately prepared and recently, President Donald Ramotar said that government is yet to decide when it will issue the order for Gecom to prepare for local government elections.

Minister of Local Government Norman Whittaker has said that the electorate is not yet ready for polls and more work has to be done with them. Critics have skewered this explanation as being an excuse for avoiding local government polls. Gecom has said that it is ready and awaiting the instruction of government.

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