Decision on new GECOM CEO likely to be determined by vote among Commissioners

Candidates for GECOM CEO position: Leslie Harrow and Vishnu Persaud

The Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) today conducted interviews with two applicants for the position of Chief Elections Officer (CEO) but the successful candidate is likely to be determined through a voting process among the Commissioners.

The two shortlisted candidates currently vying for the position of CEO are the former Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Vishnu Persaud and former Jamaican election official Leslie Harrow. They are the product of combined lists of candidates submitted by the two sides of the GECOM divide.

The two candidates were interviewed by the seven-member Commission, composed of Sase Gunraj, Bibi Shadick and Manoj Narayan on the Government side and Vincent Alexander, Charles Corbin and Desmond Trotman on the Opposition side and Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh acting as the tie breaker if necessary.

According to a source, the GECOM Commissioners will now have to submit to the Chairperson their scores of each candidate. Asked whether the successful candidate will be determined by the person with the highest score, the source explained that it may likely come down to a vote.

“I think it will come down to a vote. I think so from how this is shaping but that’s only my thoughts…,” the source revealed.

These scores are expected to be submitted by tomorrow ahead of a meeting scheduled for 13:00h where the Commissioners will discuss the next step in the process of hiring a new CEO.

“The Chairman doesn’t want the decision to take long,” the source explained.

Reports are that in the past, appointees to the CEO or DCEO post were hired based on an interview with the Commission, during which they would be evaluated and ranked based on a score sheet. The candidate with the highest score would be appointed.

INews understands that Persaud and Harrow were quizzed on their professional and academic qualifications, experience and general knowledge of elections in Guyana.

With the interviews completed, this publication understands that the two candidates have been asked to submit to GECOM copies of their academic certificates.

Persaud, who was employed as GECOM’s DCEO from 2014 to 2017, was overlooked for appointment when he sought to return to the position in 2018. In fact, his non-appointment sparked controversy and even an investigation by the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), which had concluded six months after that he was overlooked and was more qualified than the person who was chosen over him for the position, Roxanne Myers.

On the other hand, news reports in Jamaica revealed that Leslie Harrow was up until May employed as Head of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) in Jamaica. He previously served in several junior and senior positions at the Electoral Commission of Jamaica over his 18-year tenure there.