The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) has disputed a statement by former Chief Election Officer Gocool Boodoo that it was the Information Technology division which had supplied an erroneous computation to the Commission for the allocation of seats at the 2011 general elections.
That incorrect seats allocation, which would have given the PPP/C a parliamentary majority, was challenged on the day the results were to be declared by Commissioner Vincent Alexander and it was subsequently corrected. In recent weeks, Alexander has accused Boodoo of having deliberately changed the formula for the determining of seats.
Responding briefly to these accusations in a letter to Stabroek News in Monday’s edition, Boodoo said: “The fact of the matter is that the results presented to the Commission for ratification was what was presented to me by the Information Technology section”. GECOM’s letter also responded to a number of other issues raised earlier by Boodoo, including the vexing procurement of toners and film.
That statement by Boodoo appeared to be an attempt to throw off responsibility for the wrong computation which had always been ascribed to him.
GECOM yesterday came out against Boodoo’s version in a letter, published in today’s edition of the Stabroek News:
In the letter, Persaud writes:
“Mr. Boodoo’s letter states that the fact of the matter is that the results presented to the Commission for ratification were what were presented to him by the Information Technology Section. This did not happen.
Here is what is written in a document which is titled “Procedure for the Ascertainment of the Election Results – General and Regional Elections 2011, and signed by Mr. Boodoo on 26.09.2011:-
“Source: Representation of the People Act, Cap. 1:03; Sec. 96
“(1) The Chief Election Officer shall, after calculating the total number of valid votes of electors which have been cast be each list of candidates, on the basis of the votes counted and the information furnished by returning officers under Section 84 (11), ascertain the result of the election in accordance with Section 97 (Allocation of Seats) and 98 (Membership of the National Assembly).
“(2) The Chief Election Officer shall prepare a report manually and in electronic form in terms of Section 99 for the benefit of the Commission, which shall be the basis for the Commission to declare and publish the election results under Section 99 (Declaration of the Results).”
“It must therefore be unambiguously clear that the Chief Election Officer, in this case Mr. Boodoo, had the legal responsibility to “ascertain” the results of the election. Definitely not the IT Section.
Further, the IT Manager has stated categorically that he had no role in the preparation or calculation of the results which were presented to the Commission by Mr. Boodoo for ratification.”
GECOM recently took a decision not to renew Boodoo’s contract and this has sparked accusations by Boodoo against GECOM Chairman Dr Steve Surujbally. GECOM’s letter today said that it was only addressing “technical/official” issues raised by Boodoo’s letter on Monday and not the accusations against Surujbally. Since Boodoo’s letter, a government-nominated commission has come out in support of allegations made by Boodoo against Surujbally. The GECOM Chairman has not yet responded to these allegations.
Members of the public have queried why important matters such as the seats calculation had not been frontally addressed by GECOM in 2011.
GECOM in its letter refuted Boodoo’s accusation that an investigation into the appearance of two toners had been “ducked for obvious reasons.”
“This was at a time when GECOM needed toners to commence the production of ID cards, but had none in stock. Consequently, efforts were being made to purchase new toners at exorbitant prices,” GECOM said in the letter.
According to the letter, the Commission intervened by stopping the purchase and sought and received permission to purchase the toners overseas. “Suddenly thereafter, two toners appeared in two printers in GECOM’s ID Production Section. GECOM’s Chief Security Officer was mandated by the Commission to conduct an internal investigation pertaining to the sudden emergence of the two new toners,” GECOM said.
“The report did not identify anyone as being responsible for the placement of the toners in the printers nor was the report ever ducked. The Report was shared with Mr. Boodoo and all of the Members of the Com-mission,” said GECOM.
In addition, Boodoo in his letter asked that Dr. Surujbally tell the nation about the $31 million worth of films provided to a local firm based on a contract which was a two-paragraph document in favour of the Company.
“This request insinuates that Dr. Surujbally was in some way involved in some kind of skulduggery associated with this matter,” GECOM said.
The letter said that it was a Commission and not a Surujbally decision which led to GECOM entering into an agreement with ACME to return the film to ACME to avoid loss by expiry. It said that as with all matters relating to GECOM assets, the Chairman has/had no involvement. “It is essential to note that the Chief Election Officer is the Accounting Officer and the custodian of GECOM assets,” it said.
“At the At the 241st Statutory Meeting of February 25, 2009, Mr. Boodoo reported that he had no new information from ACME Photo Studio regarding the outstanding money this Company owes GECOM. He undertook to follow up this matter to bring it to satisfactory closure – to no avail,” it said.
It noted that GECOM had considered instituting legal proceedings against ACME to recover the total value this Company owed the Com-mission, “but was advised by Mr. Boodoo to stay this course of action and that he will try to negotiate with ACME. After this failed GECOM again, in 2012 considered taking legal action against ACME, but was advised by lawyers that the time for so doing had elapsed.”